Monday, June 4, 2012

Sorting and savoring

Aaron taking a final bow during his
last drama performance. Yes, I cried.
It's that let-down feeling you have after everything is said and done. Your busy plans are complete, bags are emptied, things are sort of back in place and despite a moment of rest, you are still utterly exhausted and drained. Your company has left and life is back to normal - that is until your husband has meniscus surgery this Wednesday. And looking at you and your sassy pink-haired self, no one would know all that's been going on because you appear to be coping. But the fact is you are struggling and you (in this case me) wrestle with conflicting emotions. Clear as mud, huh? 

Without getting too personal because blogs like that make me uncomfortable, this is how I'm feeling. In some strange way, it seems as if nothing happened because so much happened and it's just too hard to process. It's postpartum depression minus the baby. I scarce can take it all in.
The Class Crest of 2012
Two graduations in nine days in two different states is not for the faint of heart. Of all the stressful things I have done in my life, having those two events so close to each other is wayyyy high up there on the things I wouldn't choose to repeat. Both moments were so significant and emotional, there wasn't time to absorb one without quickly being distracted by the other. As a result, I'm stunned. What did we just do? Where did we just go and come back from (and I don't even care about the questionable grammar)? How much money did we spend? Why am I both full of emotion yet in empty despair? The denouement of Aaron's high school graduation and Nate's graduation from the United States Military Academy needed their own proper time. Kind of like my arthritic right knee, there wasn't and isn't any cushion.

Nate and I after the graduation parade.
I really loved that shining brass buckle. Very shiny. ;)
It sure seems like these cadets don't
realize what a huge day this is for me
and all the rest of the 2012 USMA parents!
After a graduation celebration with some of Nate's friends and their families, the Hubs and I were driving on Bear Mountain Bridge. Our tummies were full of delicious food from Foodies and it was early evening. The United States Military Academy, an outline of the stately concrete structures were off in the distance. The view called out to my mama's heart. Amber lights sparkled from the windows, the Hudson River sat tranquil and tears streamed from my eyes. Tears are currently streaming from my eyes as I type this, thank you very much.
Cadets are still in these rooms, I thought to myself. They are busy doing things, I mused, but strangely, my boy is no longer there. How could that be??? His (and thusly my) 47 month journey had ended just hours before and everyone had seemingly moved on. Nate was ready. I guess I was not. 
The Hubs and I during Ring Weekend
standing in front of Nate's barracks.

As the Hubs kept his eyes on the road, I couldn't help but reach out and grab that little West Point with my fingers. Between my thumb and my pointer finger, I held West Point there as long as I could before we passed it by. I can never grasp what this place has meant to my OS or to me. 
Majestic - Washington Hall 
I can find reasons to return to West Point but none will be for my boy as a plebe, yuk, cow or firstie. The pangs of this reality sting and confuse. He loved that place. He hated it. It was so far away. I loved coming there. What tumult of spirit! No sooner had Nate graduated from USMA, then he bolted from Michie Stadium along with nearly 1000 other newly commissioned officers and finished turning in all their stuff. There wasn't any sentiment in the departure and it reminded me of the 90 second goodbye we had been issued on R-Day, that never to be forgotten day. No built-in cushion there that's for sure. 

My boy, that uniform, what memories
Pride, humility, loss, gain, and so much more jumble inside. I expect to be working through these experiences and emotions for quite some time because that's what a mama does, right? 

I'd love to hear from you if you can relate. West Point mom or not, you might empathize. Thanks for listening...

Monday, May 28, 2012

West Point graduation touchstone moments

This is not a glamour shot. 
Pictured here are the freckle face, orange hair ginger, the Hubs,
the Officer just after we pinned the bars on his uniform,
the weepy proud mama, the grandpa and the ministry-bound middle brother.
We are an imperfect bunch.
But we love each other.
And when not focusing on our own personal comforts which is often difficult for most people including myself and those in my clan.
We reach deep down inside and demonstrate support and care.

And this is what my oldest OS deserved on HIS day.
Not telling Nate how exhausted and hot we were (because I do not believe there are sufficient words and he was surely more tired and sweaty!) 
But rather standing next to our Soldier physically, emotionally and spiritually.
As he graduated from the United States Military Academy.
It was a privilege and an honor.
And if someone would have handed me a mirror,
And lipstick,
And some haircare products,
Or offered me a shower to freshen up,
You know, because an important picture was going to be taken,

I would have said no

And continued to hold my son's hand.
It was only after looking at this picture the following day
that I realized that we were all touching. I love that. 
Unconcerned about appearance,
Shedding tears of pride. 
No other place could I have been
Then next to Nate and surrounded by those who love him most. 
Making memories for a lifetime,
This perspiring, imperfect collection of people
Honored a man of integrity
Whom the Lord gave me for such a time as this
And I am richly, profoundly blessed to call him (and all those in this picture) my own. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Senior table

Creating unconditional love on cardboard

Making Aaron's senior table was truly an act of love. 
Wednesday night, on the eve of high school graduation, moms and dads filled the gymnasium for a shining gesture. With Herculean effort, we decorated senior tables for our offspring. I know because I was among those parents attempting, in some impossible way to contain love on a 30"x30" plot of space. Talk about pressure!

For weeks I had been staging Aaron's table at home. With two children graduating nine days apart in two different states, I had to start early to make sure it was good. In 2008, Nate had a senior table and Aaron deserved for me to put in the same painstaking effort. In my practice sessions, sometimes I'd tape a picture in one place on the cardboard and then move it elsewhere. A few of my table prototypes were created actually in Aaron's room so he would see them when he came home from school. I'd anticipate the moment when Aaron would enter. Yes, I said to myself, hopefully he will not collapse upon seeing its beauty. Truly, I speculated, he will notice how I angled the ukelele JUST so, put the candle HERE, the coffee cup THERE and the tiny bell from Ukraine on THIS spot.
Middle OS senior pic taken by Aunt Lorri

And when Aaron would walk into his room, my ear would keen for the slightest gasp of wonder. If a second passed without a response, I couldn't stand it any longer. "Aaron, what do you think?" I'd beckon so desperate for his approval. Without exception Aaron showed his gratefulness. Whew.

Other times, you know, just in case a friend stopped by and you never know when that just might happen, I would do the whole set-up in the dining room and dare I admit, I'd walk down the stairs several times just to get a glimpse afresh. As the mama of three OS, for me with no other girl in my household, it was the equivalent of seeing a daughter in a wedding gown or a prom dress. Don't laugh. I felt joy.

The Hubs found other versions of the table in his office or in the hallway. Some family members were even blessed with text messages and pictures from me marking a new table development concept. A few were kind enough to acknowledge receipt of those pictures. Oh thank you if you indulged me!
I had been crying throughout the day
but vanity aside, I had to get a picture of me by Aaron's table. 
I sewed a swatch of remnant material from his books pants fabric. Aaron approved. Then I stitched a coordinating rectangle of some extra fabric a friend had given me. Aaron liked the manly colors. He assisted my efforts by writing in gold a poem from his favorite author William Cowper and I trimmed the sides of the cardboard with pages from an old family Bible. It wasn't perfect but the time had come for the official unveiling. Insecure feelings never replaced the warm and wonderful sentiment I felt inside.
A sample of one of the many other tables on display.

But I bet I wasn't the only one who spent copious amounts of time on the child's senior table project; based on what I saw, our collective souls were poured onto those hallowed folding tables. We did not create altars for our children, I guess we just wanted our son or daughter and all who passed by to smile and either say, "Wow, I am loved" or "Awesome, someone thinks very highly of that kid."

Another mom breathing
words of kindness upon my oliveshoot.
If you think this post is stupid, then we probably couldn't be friends. If you've read this far, you understand. Let's have lunch. 

Thursday arrived and tears flowed as we all beamed. I gazed and cried stopping by many of Aaron's friend's tables. I noted with appreciation that none of these tables felt ostentatious as if they were trying to steal attention from someone else. 
Oh how I adored seeing a classmate write
encouraging words to my boy, such loving
messages filled these pages.

The body of Christ enveloped the mood. With our individual 7 1/2 square feet carefully crafted, the seniors marked the passage of time. I paused with gratitude over the families represented and prayed for their children's future. 
After graduation, Aaron spent a
long time reading the messages.
What a thankful moment for all of us. 

Have you ever done something like for a loved one? What special things would hallmark your "table"? I'd so enjoy hearing about it. May you all have opportunity for such a celebration of life. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A boy who loved Barney

When Nate was a wee lad, he loved Barney and guns. That is an odd combination if you ask me. Barney is creepy and I am not a gun person. Things that explode or shoot scare me more than a huge purple dinosaurs.  

I love the skinned knee, he was so proud of himself
for being on top of a mountain. Holding a plastic airplane
feeling like a tough guy, Nate is truly a gift from God. 
As a young mom, I remember saying, "Nate, you can't have a gun and I don't want you playing guns or anything like that." I tried desperately to cull his firearm fascination but to no avail. One day, Nate, being a obedient and resourceful boy, found a way to satisfy both his mama's request and his personal interest. Astonished, I watched him take a bite off the corner of his peanut butter sandwich (with NO jelly!) and turn the sandwich to the side. He then placed his finger in the sandwich trigger and pulled the "switch" directly in the air. 

Should I then be surprised that this child would decide to become a cadet at the United States Military Academy? What's a mama to do?

Nate is a man's man there's no denying it!
I'm learning albeit sometimes begrudgingly to mean what I say when I tell my boys that I want them to live THEIR lives. Even if it means they do things that are dangerous or far away, they are entitled to go where they want to go, do what they feel called to do as long as it's pleasing to the Lord. As my OSs get older, this proves challenging because their decisions are significant. My middle OS feels called to the ministry, he's going to school far away to Chicago; the orange hair freckle face OS is only 15 and not sure of his destiny. Alas the oldest is a Soldier and I'm discovering truly putting personal interests aside is much harder.    

Watching my son march by me on R-Day
was far more intense than I could
have anticipated and trust me,
I anticipated it being very difficult. 
Next Saturday, the journey to and through West Point will be complete.  (Insert deep breath) My oldest OS will graduate from USMA. The sweet spot I have enjoyed, being part of the Long Grey Line but not having to think about him actually going in harm's way will be over. The next journey as a military mom starts. Things feel surreal and overwhelming. With that in mind, it's no surprise that when the Hubs said he wanted to buy a shotgun for our OS as a graduation gift, I did not react favorably. Frankly, it's not anywhere near the top of my list of things to get my kid. But the boy who fashioned a gun out of a sandwich would love this and I need to measure my response. Chalk it up to another new moment as the mama of a Soldier.

My boy and his bonita in El Salvador. Nate is becoming his own man 
and I rejoice over him being a person of honor, faith and integrity. 
A few weeks ago the Hubs got an email from our cadet informing him of Nate's potential deployment location. When he told me, I cried. This is where my faith in Jesus must prevail. I have prayed over, for and with my child. I do not come naturally to being the mama of a Soldier but this day has been in the works for nearly two decades. I am as prepared as I can be and should have seen this coming Let's do this. 
 Matthew 6:34
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

To have an inchworm as a friend...

Reading is a most cherished relaxing activity. While my brain can't retain all the amazing things I learn when reading, my black leather bound book (courtesy of my writer friend Kristi, click here for her blog) serves as fertile ground for me to deposit interesting words and quotations from books I've read, sermons I've heard, etc.

Before I met Inchy, these words from Charles Kingsley in Nancy Pearcey's book Saving Leonardo caught my attention. 
"The simplest forms of nature are strangely animated 
by the sense of Divine presence, 
the trees and flowers seem all, 
in a sort, children of God."

Then my mom had surgery and complications resulting in my encounter with Inchy. Maybe I read Kingsley's quote because Inchy and I would soon be friends. Yes, I realize that Inchy is/was an insect and human beings are God's only children though He is the Creator of all things.

But still, Inchy was a good distraction. Laughing is my favorite and Inchy provided some needed jocularity. One afternoon, while on the way to my mom's hospital room, I stopped to greet my chenille buddy. Just in case inchworms have ears, you know I wanted to offer a word of encouragement. My little looper friend, wherever you were, I hope you were having a good day! Don't listen to Hubs in the background, he was just jealous of our unusual friendship!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Symbol of resilience

Two graduations + nine days apart + two different states does not equal a lot of time to write. Even now, though loaded with plenty of blog worthy material, I approach the keyboard with hesitation. I don't know how some people can be so prolific, those fleeting moments I find in between required tasks leave me woefully exhausted.

But the women in my writers' group are meeting this Wednesday and so I'm updating my blog. If you have read this far, thanks for at least checking in.

Easter pic of my mom and some of her grand babies
My mom is home from the hospital and skilled nursing facility. Seeing her recently alert and excited at my middle OS's final drama performance blessed us all. Progress is being made, thank you Jesus.

Strange that a tiny thing I observed a month ago, a small speck of a creature should continue to have a prominent place in my mind. Let me explain...

A month ago I pushed a wheelchair down the hospital hallway. My thought at the time was the only person in need of inspiration was the woman occupying the chair, certainly not me. It had been nearly 10 days since my mom had entered the hospital for routine surgery and she was still there. The ceramic bunny had relocated to a destination unknown and now I wanted to get sprung. I was sick of this place. We needed to leave premises without delay!

As I lugged the wheelchair into the outdoor patio area, I spotted an inch worm slinking by the path. Lurching and undulating its body, there it went measure by measure in front of the two of us. Some people feel lucky finding a penny on the curb, for me finding this little looper was a priceless sign from God (and I'm not even joking).

My mom and Inchworm
Without my mother's approval, I placed the inchworm on my mother's hospital blanket. Had she the will to protest, she would have shooed the little guy off her. My digital camera captured the moments when Inchy (the name I have hereby bestowed upon him) and my mom met. It wasn't love at first sight.

I urged Mom to take heed of Inchy's perseverance and stamina. Look at him go, nary a twig or hospital blanket got in his way. Inchy's small hairless hind prolegs drew his posterior body toward the front. And sure enough, ever vigilant Inchy pressed on and followed the motion by extending his posterior legs forward. He didn't go too far and wasn't swift but by golly, Inchy didn't give up. Lo his tiny frame, Inchy never seemed intimidated by his surroundings or his diminutive size. 

One of Inchy's cousins
Henceforth, each time I went to the hospital I headed to the outdoor patio area in search of my little buddy. Never was I concerned with passersby or whether someone figured I was a patient in the mental health ward. I just needed to see Inchy, plain and simple. The Hubs was with me on more than one occasion and yes, he thought I was nuts. 

You also may think of Inchy as a mere moth larvae but he metamorphosed my thinking and ridiculous joy swelled my heart (and I'm not even joking). Inchy inspired me to write, to hope, to trek on life's distances regardless of the time it took or the impossibility of the journey. And with his lime green body, I appreciated the confidence with which he carried his quirky color. 

Although my mother didn't and still doesn't seem to get Inchy's significance, my perspective changed that springtime day. So here's what I'm wondering...have you ever experienced something like this when you see or feel a nudge from God in a most unexpected form? Without saying a word, Inchy reminded me to keep moving in a positive direction. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The bunny in the window

The most adorable thing I've ever seen
in a hospital gift shop
The ceramic bunny with powder blue overalls, paws tucked in the pockets, longingly looked at me each day from the glass display shelf. No words were needed. We were just two innocent figures in an odd place sharing a kindred desire to escape the confines of the hospital. Neither of us knew when and if that would happen. Maybe he was jealous of me as he stood motionless among the other ceramic rabbits, after all I was in the lobby area and my feet moved swiftly. To be fair though, I was envious of him also. He was in a gift shop, he made people smile and he was among other pretty ceramic friends. I felt uglier and older every time I walked into the hospital. Only once did I venture into the gift shop to lift him up to see if I had the cash to get him sprung. He was $38 and I gently set him back down to return to his post. 

Last pic of the bunny and me
Each day for ten days prior to seeing my mom, I'd go and check on the ceramic bunny with the powder blue overalls. And each time, an internal battle would loom within as I pondered taking him home with me. Did I really want an emblem of my mom's turmoil? What if my mom died here? And even if she didn't, could I one day gaze at the ceramic bunny dwelling in my home and conjure up good sentiments about the whole experience? 

Alas, the decision was taken from me. Here's what happened. 

Oh dear ceramic bunny, what were you thinking?
I had briefly visited the ceramic bunny and gone to my mom's room. She was a disheveled mess and it was as if she had completely given up. Honestly it ticked me off and left to my own druthers, I would have stormed out of the room leaving her to feel sorry for herself.

Yet I couldn't do it. Call it pride that I didn't want people to think I was a bad daughter. Call it love because I truly love the woman. Call it Jesus because He alone gave me strength. But I stayed and I got a stupid wheelchair and pushed my mom down the hallway. I told her we were going to go to the courtyard and I was going to introduce her to my friend at the gift shop. She was nonplussed. 

While on the way, I reminded my mom to lift her head up, open her eyes and speak in full sentences. She needed to engage the world in order to get better. My words were met with limited compliance...I pushed her eagerly to the lobby right up to the glass window.

"Mom, I want to show you the ceramic bunny I've been visiting every day," my voice and pace quickened in excitement as we pulled up to the display.

And this is what I saw less than an hour later - gasp
And you'll never believe what I saw...

Nothing - and the other ceramic bunnies were mum about my special friend's sudden disappearance. 

The ceramic bunny with powder blue overalls was gone. Someone had taken him. How could that be? I had just seen him less than an hour ago! Why did someone steal my joy? Why was he getting to go home and I was still stuck here? Did the ladies in the gift shop think I was such a creeper for taking so many pictures of him that they withdrew that bunny from the stock? Where did he go? Did someone get him for me? Numb would best describe my feelings and I'm being totally honest even if it sounds weird. 

I am home now and the visits to the hospital have stopped. My mom left the hospital a few days later to continue her recovery. I tried attaching myself to another ceramic bunny in the gift shop, one that was more in my price range but it just didn't feel right and that's ok. I did, however, find another little friend in the hospital which I will soon share with you but there is something I need to learn from this experience. 

This other bunny was cute but it wasn't a love connection,
I couldn't replace my old friend that easily
Albeit wistfully, I now see that the ceramic bunny in powder blue overalls as a welcome, temporary diversion to strife. He provided me a creative, silly outlet to express myself each day. We weren't meant to be together but only for a short season of life. The bunny, my mom and I all needed to go to our respective homes and leave this place behind. My mom is getting better and healing in a variety of ways. Thanks for letting me share, dear friends. I always enjoy your thoughts and comments...

Friday, March 30, 2012

Sister/friend, Army/Navy, trials/blessings

My friend Kim and I hanging out in the hospital lobby.
I have pink highlights and though
Kim does not have olive green highlights in her hair, 

she's still a really good person
as you will soon discover. 
Last year Kim went in the hospital for routine surgery. As part of our Bible Study, she lifted the situation up as a prayer concern and we promised to pray for her. No big deal, I thought to myself. I've had a hysterectomy. Not pleasant but she'll be fine. I'll make her a meal, be a nice friend and we'll see her back in our group in no time at all.

But that's not what happened. The routine surgery became life-threatening as deadly pockets of infection raged in her abdomen. Soon she was too sick to return text messages and too weak to speak. Her husband took over communication and his emails were long as he detailed the troubles and asked for more prayers. Three additional surgeries later, Kim still was in the hospital gravely ill. Another woman in our Bible Study, a pharmacist, told us later that Kim was near death. A vital, young wife and mother of four daughters never expected these complications. Our group was jarred and we cried out to the Lord to save our dear friend and sister in Christ. More meals, more cards, visits to the hospital, we all wondered why this was happening. Kim spent 11 days in the hospital and it took months for her to remain her strength. As she lay in the hospital bed, baseball cap on her head because she was too weak to even wash her hair, Kim had time to talk to God about the purpose for her suffering. She promised to use her illness to minister to others and to not waste this trial...

13 months later - it was past one in the morning when the Hubs and I finally returned home from the hospital. My mom was in the throws of withdrawal from pain meds and at times it was like seeing a demon coming out of her body. Nothing could console her and we were at our wits' end as we left the hospital and to get some sleep.

While in the shower, in the wee hours of the mourning, I felt the Lord speak to me and remind me about Kim. "Ask her to come to the hospital," that's what God said to me...while in the shower...Later that day I called and without hesitation Kim heartily agreed.  On Saturday, a little over a year after her own ordeal, my friend walked back into the same hospital, this time not as a patient but as a woman victorious. 

The devotional Kim gave to my mom.
She brought my mom a beautiful devotional and recounted her days at the hospital. After Mom's visit, as I escorted Kim back to the hospital entrance, she remembered being wheeled down that  hospital corridor. She recalled the blossoms on the trees that she rolled by for another CT scan...reflections of how in the midst of despair, she yearned for another day of life, unsure of when and if she would ever leave the hospital or see another spring. 

Kim and I just before the Army/Navy football game 
as we sparred just before Bible Study
Though she is a Navy wife and I'm an Army mom, and many of us are familiar with the friendly banter shared between these two military branches, moreover we are friends and sisters in Christ. We brush past the fact that her hubs is a Navy grad and my oldest OS will soon graduate from West Point ;) Moreover, Kim has honored her promise to the Lord and actively searches opportunities to tell her story. God uses His people when we let Him. Some of the most shameful parts of my life, things Satan would say you can never discuss because people will judge you or hate you or call you names, the Lord told me to open my mouth and no longer let those chains shackle me. He has allowed me to share parts of my former life with thousands of people because those things point to His redemption, goodness and love. Kim has done the same although her content is different. She doesn't say no to sharing be it a large audience or the hurting grandma in Room 370 (my mom). 

When I prayed for my friend to get better, it didn't occur to me that I needed her, not just as my Bible Study buddy but as an encourager to someone I love. She is teaching me things because the Lord is her teacher. So how about you? Don't discount how YOU can be a blessing. Consider the ways your own story and suffering are touchstones intended to draw you and others closer to the God of All Comfort. Being Kim's friend has made me more sensitive to helping others and moving beyond myself. I pray the same for you, dear friends...more soon

Thursday, March 29, 2012

When you can find joy...

Part of the crew while we waited
for the nurses to change my mom's IV
Well, it's not been for lack of content that I haven't written. Trust me. It's because life has been replete with content that finding a moment to reflect has escaped me. My mom is being transferred to an assisted care facility tomorrow after quite a time in the hospital. So much to process and I believe it's worthy of sharing but sometimes it's hard to know where to begin. This I know for sure, our journey is one you shouldn't do without Jesus. 

Sometimes we make a mess of things
and only God can make something good come out of it.
Strange as it seems, there has been joy. Not a synthetic eudaimonia either. The circumstances surrounding my mom's long recovery and complications aren't particularly pleasant. Had someone told me I would be laughing and silly with all the mess going on, I would have been incredulous. My family has been united. We have loved my mom and each other with honesty and courage. Whether it's the orange hair freckle face OS's tender cards of encouragement for his grandma or the middle OS trekking to faithfully see her; manifold blessings bloom in the spring air. Aaron has pastoral aspirations and I have witnessed the gifting the Lord has placed on his life as he visits my mom with his ukulele or guitar and always his Bible close at hand. He even went to another woman's hospital room (the grandma of one of his friends) and ministered to her aching soul. The Hubs has been my hero. My baby sister who lives nearby has been strong and hilarious showing power when I had none. Extended family has rallied behind us. Really, friends, don't do this journey if you can avoid it (and really don't do it without Jesus, seriously). I still remain thankful despite the fact that my mom isn't doing back-springs and cartwheels out of the hospital. Ok, that's a funny word picture. So as I was sitting in church on Sunday, tears streaming from my eyes, anxiety looming, heart breaking; there was still an undercurrent of contentment. How could that be?

Message from a freckle face,
orange hair OS to his grandma
One of the women in church was praying out loud. Reject any notion that might pop into your head of a person in a trance or losing her mind. Even if you aren't a church-going person, my hunch is you wouldn't have been creeped out. Sincerity flowed from her lips and I loved her prayer because she quoted Old Testament Scripture.

Habakkuk 3:17-19

17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.
Hearing those timeless words was a balm to my spirit. Lacking a prophet's eloquence and wisdom, my own Habakkuk prayer would go something like this...  
Make a joyful noise my sweet and precious child
Though the circumstances of my mom's struggles are yucky; though I am not in control of all the variables; though I am sad and tired; though I would like to not know so many nurses; though my car instinctively knows how to get to the hospital, though I had text-finger (which by the way, is painful) because of my nearly constant communication with others; though my mom really needs to find more motivation and umph; yea though there is still laundry and meals, yet I will rejoice in God my Savior. What choice do I have? My arthritic knee creaks and bends in humble praise of the One who can do immeasurably more than I could ever expect or imagine. Amen
My writer friend, the recently published, soon to be immensely famous Cara McLaughlin recently shared, "believing is the hardest part but it's also the best part."
Today I'm embracing the believing part of this journey satisfied with what God is doing even if it's not as I imagined it. More soon...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hospitals and hair

Pretty blossoms in the hospital courtyard
Having a good hair day in a hospital seems like a waste. Yesterday I was out in public and would have appreciated a bit of flounce. Today I sit in Room 115, a small, antiseptic space squished in a chair. My hair and I listen to the sounds of my mother wracked with pain and wheezing. My hair displays the life my mother needs more. Stupid tv options, frequent interruptions, feelings of hopelessness, confusion and frustration fill the skull but my pink-streaked hair has vitality. Ironic. Hard to concentrate, don't have medical degree, unclear on every level. Ate homemade soup, heard from friends far and wide. Many praying, offers of support and love cover nearly every state and portions of Central America. Aunt spent the night at the hospital and heard the screams of pain. Oh Jesus. 
Romans 8:26 
Likewise the Spirit helps us 
in our weakness. For we do not know 
what to pray for as we ought, 
but the Spirit himself intercedes for us 
with groanings too deep for words.

When I arrived at the hospital this morning, my aunt's hair was disheveled and if it had a voice, her hair would have stories I just can't hear right now. My mom's hair is sweaty and matted. It needs its owner to get up and wash it and style it. I would even be ok if she used the curling iron and that's saying something. 

Having a good hair day in a hospital seems like a waste, at least it does for me. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

We are West Point Moms!

I could barely eek out a few words before bursting into tears. We had never met and yet there was a bond between us as soon as she answered the phone. We were West Point moms at opposite ends of the 48 month adventure. The warmth in her voice removed the little resolve I had left to keep it all together. I attempted to ask some factual questions but really all I wanted to know is that she survived. Since she was still able to speak in full sentences, I perceived that as a good sign. 

The Hubs made this graph when 
Nate was a new cadet, it's so true!
Don't we all want to find kindred spirits, people who can help us along life's way? I sure do. In many aspects, the desire to be encouraged and embraced is central to feeling a sense of community. Connection is what I've found in being a West Point Mom.

WP moms come in all sizes!

Perhaps mothers with children in traditional universities have a bond. As my middle OS begins college at Moody Bible Institute this fall, it would be nice to meet mothers who have children pursuing ministry. Yet I must be honest, my expectations will be high because West Point moms spoil each other with kindness.

Here are just a few examples of what it's like to be a WP mom.  
This is the cutest Girl Scout delivery 
boy in El Salvador!
Recently my oldest OS went to see his bonita in El Salvador. She likes Girl Scout cookies and Nate couldn't possibly go there empty-handed! He had bought her tea and nail polish which truly threatened his "Man Card" but Girl Scout cookies was another must-have item. Well, one quick message on facebook and a WP mom, whom Nate has never met, shipped EIGHT, yes EIGHT boxes to my boy, free of charge.

Girl Scout cookies make girlfriends happy!
Nate was hoping to avoid parking fees at the airport while on vacation in El Sal. A simple message to my WP moms and a grandma of a cadet offered Nate to park his car at her home for the week.

A mom asks for prayers and a swarm of WP moms respond with concern. A mom posts a picture of her cadet on the page and we gush as if it were our own bairn.

There is no paucity of concern or compassion. The Scripture passage found in Romans 12:15 is fitting. "Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn." Though most of us haven't met in person, we understand each other. We don't all share the same political convictions or spiritual beliefs, some don't even use soap nuts(!) but nonetheless we are a sisterhood. We realize our cadets will most likely travel in harm's way. We get it in ways most don't. Current events and conflicts in foreign lands impact our children's future. As our cadets return from Spring Break, many weepy moms lamented about missing their cadet. We reassured them and gathered them into the fold cuz that's how WP mamas roll. 

This is a common WP mom facial
expression. It's hard to let go!
Now I'm at the other end of this experience. Nate graduates the end of May. I don't want it to end but I know my cadet is ready to see where life leads him.  The current trajectory is Georgia, Colorado and then possibly Kuwait.  
Even if you're not a WP mom, you will enjoy this video one of my friends created. One day soon your child will embark on new journeys and it will tug on your heart even if your baby isn't heading to the United States Military Academy. I've watched this video many times and I can't get through it without shedding a tear. A picture of Nate and I at Ring Weekend is found on 00.53 of this link. What a privilege to be part of this long grey line!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Soap Nuts Winner!

Judging from the responses left on my facebook and blog post, many of you have joined the chorus saying, "I'm sick and tired of being pococurante about laundry!", you do know what pococurante means, don't  you?  (looks disdainfully through bespectacled lens)   
Soap nuts amid my homemade fabric bowls

Prior to yesterday, I didn't know what it meant to be pococurante but this mama of three oliveshoots has been pococurante about laundry for far too long, my friends! Thanks to, now I don't have to say I've been careless and indifferent about cleaning clothes. Thank you! Each day a fancy new word arrives in my email box and yesterday's word was pococurante. You should have seen the OS's faces as I was extolling the virtues of soap nuts and then I nonchalantly told them last night that I was no longer pococunrate about dirty clothes. They were like, "wha???"
my trusted source for fancy words

Now that you are thoroughly impressed with my vocabularic (my new invented word) acumen, let me announce the winner of the DELUXE Soap Nuts Combination Package.
Way to go, Julie!
I'm working on a few more things regarding soap nuts and other items so my hunch is this will not be the last giveaway I offer though it might be the most extravagant. I look forward to hearing from Julie about her experiences with all the NaturOli products she can try. Considering she has been sick as a dog with her current pregnancy, I'm sure you can all join me in being happy that in between bouts of nausea, Julie has something to make her feel better.
This is the Deluxe Soap Nuts Combination
Package offered in the giveaway 
Based on a suggestion from an interested mom, I'm now seriously contemplating having a soap nuts party. People are curious on how to use them and how they work. If people can have Pampered Chef parties (which I think are wonderful!), then perhaps a continuing education course on soap nuts is in order. If you like the idea, let me know. If you are pococurante, I'd want to hear about that also. ;)

In the midst of celebrating the Hubs' 50th birthday and a CRAZY compliment the orange hair, freckle face OS (future blog post) gave me yesterday, I washed my middle OS's linens with soap nuts. The first thing I noticed was how crisp and fluffy Aaron's sheets and pillow cases felt in the dryer. The other thing I noticed was that it took a lot less time for the items to dry. I'm not sure if this is a phenomena based on soap nuts but I'm going to ask the experts and I'll let you know.  

Use code WPMoms for 10% off including most sale items!
How many other blogs out there have used a unique word, talked about laundry AND soap nuts? That's just how we do! Congrats to Julie and I sincerely would appreciate you readers telling me what you think about a soap nuts party even if you couldn't attend. Try to find a way to incorporate that fun word into your weekend conversations!