Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mama's Sad Day

I wasn't sure if I should write about today.

But writing helps me heal.

So I chose to write.

March 27th. Mama's Sad Day.  At least that's what my kids call it.  I try to not be sad. But I can't help it.

March 27, 2001 my father passed away.  He was 47. I was 21.  I had a unique and close relationship with him. We just got each other.  It was hard to lose him.  Painfully hard. Words can't be uttered how painfully hard.

He would be 57 and I am 31.  How much has changed through this past decade.  I have overcome. I have fallen. I have made mistakes and I have had achievements.  This decade was the decade of my life where there were the most changes.  And he didn't get to walk me through them.  And I miss him.

Some of his last words sent to me were "get your life straight, Julie".  They were very few in number.  But I knew. I knew his heart. And I knew there were so many more words behind those few.

This year I am making some big choices. Really big choices.  And I often think. What would he think? Would he feel that I finally 'got my life straight'?   I hope he would.  I think he would.

I know he would rejoice that I went to the Lord in repentance and am serving Him faithfully each day.

I know he would be heartbroken knowing the abuse I went through with my marriage.

I know he would adore my children.  He would love them and my nieces like no other grandpa could.

I know he would be so proud that I am finishing my education.

I know he would still tickle me. And I would still get mad.

I know he would still pick me up and give me the biggest bear hugs. ever.

I know he would still love me. and even like me.  

I know we would still argue. Just for fun. And he would let me win.

I know we would still be friends.  Like only a father and daughter could be. 

I know I will never.ever. stop missing him.  'Cause I still need him.

10 years ago today I was woken to be told the news that my dad had passed away. An hour later I would be at the funeral home planning his funeral.

10 years ago today, my life as I knew it came to a crashing halt.

10 years ago today I didn't think I could live another day. And yet I did.

This morning was beautiful.  It was cold.frigid.crisp. Wind biting cold. I dropped the kids off at Sunday School. I told them I needed to go to the cemetery.  And they knew.  It was Mama's sad day.  And they understood.

I went to the cemetery. Dreading and yet needing.

I knew the landscape well.  I had spent many hours in this cemetery as a child planting flowers at ancestor's gravesides.  It is a beautiful cemetery.  Quiet.Peaceful.Sentimental.  A perfect setting for those who mourn.

I walked up to his grave. The path well known and fell to my knees in tears.  The ground was cold and hard.  And I wept.  For the years lost. And the lost future without him.  

As I laid on the ground weeping I cried out to my heavenly Father.  I needed comfort.  I had a request. A private request.  I looked up to the skies begging God for an answer. Telling Him I needed this one desire of my heart to be filled. In that instant the clouds broke open and the sun shone upon my face.  I knew then that God was telling me everything would be perfect in His time. 

When we were leaving church this afternoon, Rhianna skipped up to me and slipped her hand in mine. "Mama.  How was it? How was your time in the cemetery?"

I am so blessed.  So blessed to have children who know. And understand. That sometimes Mama needs to weep alone in the cemetery.  On her sad days. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Growing Pains

Lately Reagan has been having issues with growing pains.  It seems like most nights at bedtime he cries because his shins and knees hurt. I get him some Advil, snuggle him and rub his legs a bit. Thankfully he soon settles down and can sleep.

I hate to see him in so much pain.  But I am thankful he is having them.  This may sound odd, me being thankful, but I am.  Reagan had issues with his stomach the first 2 1/2 years of his life.  Which caused him to not like to eat.  Needless to say, he didn't grow quickly.  Now at 5 1/2 he is starting to eat better causing him to grow.

His pediatrician said often children like him will go on a rapid growth spurt to 'catch up' to where they should be.  He said to expect Reagan to have a harder time with growing pains that my other two. 

Because I love him, I don't like it.  But because I love him, I know it is best for him.  Growing pains result in growth.  I don't want my son to be small and unhealthy forever. I want him to grow into a strong man.  But he must endure growing pains to reach his full potential.  While he is going through these pains I will be there to massage his legs and give him some advil to give him the ability to get through the painful times.

Isn't God just like that?  I don't think He likes to see us in pain. I don't think He enjoys seeing us endure an experience that causes us heartache. But I think He loves us enough to allow these things knowing that with painful growth results in us getting closer to reaching our full potential. 

God gives us His word, prayer, the church, fellowship, hymns and praise to be as a balm.  To be like the Advil and massages I give my son.  He gives them to us freely to get through the growing pains so that we can be stronger and more effective for His kingdom.  We just have to be willing to open up and accept the medication given.

While going through a painful time I want to shout and say "I want to be weak. I want to be small and useless. I am tired of this pain. I don't want to grow anymore." But when I allow God to fully comfort me I know it will be worth it.  And then when that painful time is over I can see how much taller, stronger and effective I am.

With each painful experience comes growth. It may not be the calcification of the cartiladge in the epiphyseal growth plate, but the tenderizing of the heart, strengthening of your faith, increasing in your compassion or growing in wisdom. 

Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. ~Psalm 61:1-2 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Oh How I Love My Label Maker

To the tune of O, Christmas Tree:

O, Label Maker
O, Label Maker
O, How you make my life complete.

You labeled all my Tupperware

You labeled all my spices clear.

O, Label Maker, O Label Maker.

O How I love my label Maker.

I have officially reached a new point in my life.  This past February I turned, um. It's older than 30 but much, much younger than 32.  I wasn't quite sure if I was ready for a grown up gift just yet.

When my mom asked me what I wanted I told her I needed to think about it. When in fact I needed to argue with myself about it. You see, I really really wanted a label maker.  But part of me was not ready to admit  this to myself  yet.  I had a bit of an inner struggle.  One side (the 31 year old) saying "You would be so organized" The other (Still the immature 30 year old) saying "Yes. And that is not fun" The first side would say "Yes it is.  You know the giddy feeling you get after you alphabetize your spices. Just imagine having those spices labeled! Along with your shoe boxes and your files and so many more things!"  With that argument, even the immature one in me couldn't argue at the fun we would have.

I called my mom up and to her amusement I asked for a label maker.   She said she wasn't sure which one I wanted so she would get me a gift card.  Before my birthday dinner she said "Julie. I feel so bad only getting you a gift card for your birthday. Its so impersonal" To which I replied "Mom. You are getting me a label maker. Not highly personal to begin with. I think we are fine" :o)

But I must admit I almost skipped into Staples to buy my label maker dragging Riley behind me.  He was not in complete agreement with my excitement. Then. Lo and behold they were on sale!  Must have been just for my birthday. I think I squealed. Just a little. At least I think I did. The sales lady looked at me funny...

I have had more fun that I honestly care to admit labeling things.  I have not yet labeled my kids, thankyouverymuch, but the thought has crossed my mind.  Imagine the ease when you are talking to them and their name is posted right on their forehead? No more forgetting which child's name is what. No more blank stares when you call the oldest by the cat's name. 

Right around the time of my big b-day Tupperware was having a giant sale on modular mates.  I went ahead and bought some and then winning some more in a  bonus drawing.  I was so excited to start organizing and labeling that I don't think I slept much.  I needed to figure out how to condense my large kitchen into a smaller kitchen. And Tupperware + label maker = the answer.

I haven't had as many things to label in the past week or so. But with the move right around the corner, I should start to warm the splendid machine up and get printing.  It's gonna be fun.

And yes, the spices pictured above are alphabetized.  

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Like Me

This one is a tough one.  But one that is due to be written about.  He has asked why I haven't written about him yet.  And the answer is a hard one to explain. 

I have three children.  I love them all equally. Differently, because each child is so different, but equally.  This reasoning makes my feelings towards him hard to put into words. To fully explain my heart when I think of him.

He is my first. Which is why there are these emotions attached to him.  In a sense he saved me.  Not like Christ saved my soul. As in he saved my life.  The months before I found out I was pregnant with him I was hitting rock bottom.  I no longer wanted to live. I had no reason to live.  I had lost my dad, my best friend. In my mind I had no reason to keep going.

But then I found out I had life growing inside of me.  I knew I had to pick myself up and live for him.  As soon as the pregnancy was realized, I knew it was a boy. And I was glad.  I knew his middle name would be 'Dale'.  For the father I had prematurely lost.  All bouts of depression left me and I was ready to change and prepare my heart and life for him. 

On November 11, 2002, my son~ my firstborn, Riley Dale was born.  He looked just like my dad. I could see it in the shape of his face. I cried and cried for the father I lost and for the grandpa my son would never know.  It was a bittersweet moment.  My heart was breaking while mourning the loss of my father and his absence at his first grandchild's birth.  But rejoicing in my newborn son and how precious he was.

Six weeks after Riley was born, I gave my heart and life to Christ.  I knew that I wanted my son to do the same thing and if I didn't have Christ as Lord of my life, how could I expect my son to do the same?  I am not sure what would have happened to me had I not surrendered it all to Jesus.

As Riley grew, I began to see a resemblance of myself in him.  He thinks like me, acts like me, reacts like me and reasons like me.  I see my strengths in him, but I also see my weaknesses.  We love to read together.  I love getting the old classics and introducing him them to him.  I love how he says "use your voices, mom". And I do.  I love how he is known at the libraries as a boy who loves books. I love how he is known at church by the other mothers as a little boy who 'just loves babies'.  I love how he is so ornery and mischievous.  I love how he takes himself so seriously when he prays.  I love his wisdom in his prayers. I just love being. with him.

My prayer for Riley is that he can be the man God has made him to be.  I want to be the mother who prepares her sons to be men for Christ.  It is my duty to prepare them and teach them how to be leaders of their home someday.  It is a daunting task, and one that through the grace that is poured on me I will prayerfully succeed. 

Why was this so hard to write?  Because how do I put into words what he means to me?  Because how do I begin to explain the potential this child has? How do I write that in a tiny way he has filled parts of the hole in my heart left there from my dad? How do I write about how I love how fiercely protective he is of me? How do I write that I want to weep at the prayers he prays, and how wise they are? How do I write that I see him, with his strengths, someday being a warrior for Christ?  I don't know how to write it. I just know how to say one thing for sure.  I love him. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I Have One

I have one daughter. Some mothers have been given more. But God chose to only give me one. I tell her God may have only given me one daughter... but He handpicked the best for me.  She is everything I wish I was.; and isn't everything I am. 

Rhianna is gentle. She is patient. She is kind. Sensitive. Somewhere she obtained this ability to sense when people are hurting and knows just what to do to comfort them.  Her heart is so tender and I know that God has created her to do wonderful things to build up His kingdom.

I often look at her hands and know how important hands are to a Godly woman.  With these hands she will have the opportunity to comfort the sick, feed the hungry and mend the brokenhearted.  But more importantly she will get to use these hands to care for her children. Washing dishes, cooking meals, baking cookies, folding laundry, wiping feverish heads, holding little hands, wiping tears. And it is my privilege as her mama to teach her all these things. 

I have one daughter. One daughter who told me tonight that she hopes when she is big she gets to have "what is the word for having five babies at one time?" Me: Quintuplets.  "Quintuplets. Yeah. That is what I want". 

Her latest desire in life is to have an American Girl doll. She numbered them in the order that she wants them. Because, of course, she does want every doll.  "But first get Kit mom. I look most like her."  She saves the little bit of money she may earn.  "One day mom, I'll have enough.  Then I'll buy my American Girl." 

I have one daughter who works alongside me in the kitchen signing hymns. I have my one daughter who is so willing to help her mama when I am so overwhelmed with life.  I have one daughter who prays for the people I struggle to pray for.

My one daughter resembles my sister who has a daughter who resembles me.  Mothers and daughters, aunts and nieces, grandmothers and granddaughters, sisters and cousins.  Special relationships that are tightly bound with an invisible cord. 

There is so much more to say. Yet the words just don't want to come.  Maybe I want to hold my dearest thoughts about my daughter and ponder them in my heart.  I just wish I could put into words what this girlie means to me.  I see her amazing gifts and I can see her broken heart.  I wipe away tears from her cheeks while shedding tears of my own.  I want to fix it for her, yet I don't know how.  I ache for my father while I hold her and she aches for hers.   
We have a bond. As mother and daughter. She is my daughter. My one. And I love her.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


whinge (hw nj, w nj) intr.v. whinged, whing·ing, whing·es Chiefly British. To complain or protest, especially in an annoying or persistent manner.

I recently read a blog where this word was introduced to me.  And I fell in love with it immediately.

Say it outloud ~  Doesn't the sound of the word describe the meaning perfectly? Argh... The sound of the word is annoying and grates on my nerves.  Pretty much the same feeling I get when someone comes to me to whinge.  Makes me want to cringe.  (Yes, I know. It rhymes! How great is that?) 

Then I realized how often I have been guilty of whinging.  And how utterly unattractive I must be whilst I whinge. Made me shudder to think of the horror of the ugliness. Then and there I decided I wouldst no longer whinge.  

I just wish I could convince my children of this same idea.  According to my children (on certain days) I am the worlds meanest mother.ever.  Because how dare I want them to eat a healthy dinner. How dare I expect them to do a few chores. And forbid. I want them to pick up their toys? The horror of it.

How often does God put up with our whinging?  Do we do as the Children of Israel did, whine and complain and throw tantrums at our circumstance?  I wonder what other provisions God had in store for the Israelites?  Provisions that He never gave them because they whinged their way through the desert for 40 years. How often would they praise God for the provisions He gave them?  Do you think He had more to give but was waiting to see how they reacted?  What blessing is God holding back from giving us because we are not thankful for the blessings we already have?

I need to remember that even though I have daily struggles and worries, I have it so good compared to many others.  Philippians 4:8 states whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  I need to think only of the goodness of God and not think of things that make me whinge.

I'm challenging each one of you, my dear friends.  What makes you whinge?  Is your whinging improving your circumstance or creating a larger problem?  I challenge you to no longer whinge, whine, complain or have one negative word flow from your lips.  Then stand and watch as the your world transforms into a more pleasant, joyful place to exist. 

As a sponge.

I have always known that God delights in blessing His children.  I have always known that all blessings come from Him.  I have always known that God is our father who wants only good for us.  But what I never thought about until this past week, is how many blessings we are missing out on simply because we do not ask. 

I think of my own children.  Tonight for example: Riley had worked really hard.  He came to me and reminded me of all the things he did for me (stripped the beds, carried wood, helped me make dinner). He asked me if he could have some extra computer time.  Immediately I said yes!  Wondering why I didn't think of it first? Of course he deserved a reward...but being that I was tired I was not thinking clear enough to make that initiative.

I'm not implying that God is forgetful like I was this evening. I'm giving the suggestion that sometimes He just wants to be asked.  We need to be proactive in our prayer life and in our walk with Him.  I'm not sure we can comprehend how delighted God is when He blesses one of His children. All I know is that my heart was joyful when I saw my boy receive his requested reward. And computer time is such a minute thing...imagine the magnitude of the joy of the Lord when goodness is poured out upon His child?

What blessings does God have in store for you that cannot be delivered until you ask?  Every night I pray that my children will be like a dripping wet sponge.  That they will have so many blessings poured down upon them that it will submerge them and drip onto those surrounding them. I too want to be a sponge, but I need to ask God what I need to do to stay in His perfect will so that I may be blessed to the fullest.

Dear reader, I have one request for you.  I need your specific prayers.  I need a job. A specific job. But I don't know the specific job I need. I just know that I have requirements.  My requirements are: pays well enough so that I can support my children on my own, is close to my new home, and is an atmosphere where I will succeed being a single mom/Christian. I know God has this somewhere for me. I have faith that God is paving the way to this job.  I just need my friends to come alongside me and pray that I will be shown where to seek to find this job. 

I want you to be a sponge too. So that you can soak up His love,mercy and goodness; and have His blessings flow down upon and through you.  So that you are so overwhelmed with blessings that His goodness can be glorified through your life.

We are to make our requests be made known unto God. My precious friend if it is on your heart please share a blessing you are requesting, specific or general, that we may pray along with you.  Or leave a note sharing a recent blessing you have recently received to encourage us to keep on praying!