The power of words

I receive hand scratched notes on a regular basis from my youngest child.  They are often apologies written in marker and hand-delivered in tears.  Each one is some variation of this, "Dear Mom, I am sorry I made you mad.  Will you forgive me?  Yes or No?  (Circle one.)  Love, Eliza"

I always feel a flash of sadness as I remember some small thing I may have reminded her to do or scolded her for.  It is a rare occasion that I am actually upset with her, but her sensitivity to my tone of voice and her desire for my approval prompts these little messages written by a broken heart.  She has opened my eyes to the tenderness that exists inside of her, and the care I need to use when disciplining her.

I think a lot about the words I speak.  I frequently leave conversations wishing I had kept my mouth shut, and regret the potential error of my words for days.  Seriously, days!  I analyze the back and forth of the exchange, and wonder how my words were received.  Have I offended?  Di…

When God disappoints

There are secret thoughts that marinate in my mind long before they ever make it past my lips.  They sometimes push their way into a blog if I've found any perspective on them, but often I find that fear keeps them inside.  They are hidden behind those thin places stretched delicately over my heart.  To allow them to be seen, to be touched, is to risk tearing them away leaving the rhythm of my life exposed.

It has been nearly a year since the lies first settled over me.  Again and again I would hear them sing their terrible song.  "You are not enough.  You are not wanted."  They interrupted my thoughts while I was on a Skype call with the pastors from our missionary organization.  They had been counseling my husband and me through the difficult decision of moving back to the U.S., and the reality of where we were heading was not where I wanted to go.  It was becoming increasingly clear that we would be leaving Nicaragua.

We had worked so hard to get there, and God had wa…

The Church will fail you

It was a Saturday.  I don't know why I remember that after 15 years, but I do.  I was working a busy 12 hour shift at the hospital, but my mind was still replaying the Sunday before.  My stomach was nervous, and my heart thumped hard against my chest.  I couldn't wait another day to do what I knew needed to be done.  My hands felt the slightest tremor as I picked up the phone in one of the nurse's charting alcoves.  I dialed her number, and waited in dread as it began to ring.

I'd had nursery duty that week during service, and as I watched my young son I looked around the space to see how it could be improved.  There had been a bit of a baby boom in the congregation, and I felt the need to refresh the small space.  With permission from leadership and a budget assigned, I initiated the process.

There were removable stickers displayed happily along the walls that I easily removed and placed in the trash.  I was imagining paint and matching curtains along with organized s…

I'm just a mom

I'm just a mom.  I stay at home with my kids, but really, my kids are all in school now.  So, I guess the more accurate description is that I am a mom who stays at home alone.  I've looked for jobs over the past few months, and the few things I've tried have fallen through.  Admittedly, I haven't tried very hard.

There are days when I think about the potential income I am missing out on, and how it could provide us with more fun opportunities.  There are days when I don't feel very useful, and truthfully, unneeded.  No one gives me a pat on the back for emptying the dishwasher, or making sure we have clean towels.  I won't be getting a review for how many times a week I help with homework, which is probably a good thing because I hate it.  The thank you's are few and far between, and the work is mundane.

When I was in fifth grade I did a book report on Florence Nightingale, the renowned nurse.  I remember telling my mom that I wanted to be like her someday,…

When loss is gain

Dinner is before us, and we sit down to eat with old acquaintances who are becoming new friends.  We listen to chapters of their unknown story, and we share paragraphs of ours.  The bread is broken, and I see how pieces of us are too.  But we enjoy the meal because in this moment, we are in the mess of it together.

We talk about the home we sold before moving to Nicaragua, and the memories we left behind.  My thoughts catch me by surprise, and I feel the emotion of that goodbye all over again.  I blink several times to keep my unexpected tears from falling in the stroganoff.  I know that the truth is, I don't miss that house anymore.  If I had the opportunity to move back today, I wouldn't.  But remembering the release of it touches some tender place in me.

It was a sunny day in August when we turned away for the last time.  My little girls and I walked the empty hallways, and past the marks on the walls that measured their growth for years.  We sat on the floor of their emp…

Love's standing ovation

I was grumpy the day he was born.

He didn't come when I wanted, or in the way I wanted him to.

He hadn't done what babies are suppose to do when they head out into the world.  Instead, he flipped himself around and lodged himself underneath my ribs, a literal pain in my side.

He paid for his choice with an abnormally shaped head for the first few months of his life.  Although, he didn't seem to mind not fitting in with all of the other babies.  I put a hat on him to cover up the differences.

They had held his red, wrinkly body up for me to see, but my brain was already drifting from the pain medication.  And while the room was still spinning, they placed him in my arms and wheeled me into recovery.  All of my mental protests couldn't convince the nurses that I wasn't ready to hold him.  This is, after all, what mothers do.

He was just shy of eight pounds, but I felt the true weight of that moment.  I was sure he was going to fall right out of my arms and onto the …

The long path to solid ground

I stood at the gap between earth and heaven, and dreamed of the other side.  I was never in the place of wanting to end my life, but I longed for the pain and the loss and the loneliness to end.  I was thankful for the days when tears would come, because that meant I could still feel something.  I had experienced the loss of so many things I loved, that my heart began to protect itself.

It was a slow realization that a numb heart is not a heart that can love or care for anything but itself.

There were many days I lived on autopilot.  I would wake up far too early, drink the coffee, eat the breakfast, wake the kids, and send them off to school.  The next day I would do it again.  And again.  The hours in between would find me in bed or mindlessly engaged in activities that allowed me to escape from the reality of my new life.

I was me, and I was not.  I lived in the shadow of my life before Nicaragua, where the people, and the places, and the things looked the same.  But they were not.…