Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Please Mommie

"Please Mommie," she asks so sweetly, "Can I sleep in yours bed?"
Yes my little one because too soon you will be too big or too grown up or not even like me anymore. Yes, even though my back hurts and I am exhausted from cleaning up your illness that didn't make it into a bucket or the toilet, yes, even though I've wiped your nose all day, tried to cajole you into taking the antibiotic the Dr. prescribed, and changed countless stinky diapers while slathering ointment on your rash.

Yes my darling, you can sleep in my bed all curled up. You can hog the covers and put your cold toes on me. Yes you can sleep with me. Sometime during the night, you'll snuggle closer, so close, and your little arms will snake around my neck. At some point you'll kiss me, maybe on the cheek or maybe on the lips. Eventually you'll push me out of the bed and I'll spend time writing about it on the Internet, but yes, my love, you can sleep with me. I wouldn't ever tell you no.

I love it when you sleep curled in my arms. I love hearing your breath as it evens and you relax. I love hearing your words as they escape your dreams and you say your thoughts out loud. I love sleeping with you, because for now, I know you need me.

You need me more than you need your favorite stuffed bunny and special blanket. You need me more than ever tonight. And that makes me feel loved. In a few days, I know I will be sick like you are now and I will want my Mommie too. But, alas, I am too old to sleep with mine, so you shall sleep with me and I will hold you until you push me away.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Icy Fear

Thank you Lord for cushioning my family and me this morning. We really needed you and your strength. Thank you for the help of the people you sent to rescue us from our disaster. Thank you for letting each of us walk away from the car crash. The lingering aches and bruises are nothing major and will not last for long. Thank you for giving us our lives to carry on.

It happened in an instant. I was driving along, felt the car skid and eased off the gas. Then all was fine. Next thing I knew we were in a ditch on the driver's side of the car. I flipped our car this morning on a stretch of icy road. I was taking my brother to a job interview. My mom and my daughter Casey were also with me. I felt so helpless. I couldn't control it. It just did its thing and there we were. My mom and brother were hanging from the seatbelts. Casey was strapped in her seat. She had such a look of terror on her sweet face. My mom kept wanting me to release her seat belt. I knew that if I did, she would fall on top of me and get hurt worse.

Several truck drivers and other people stopped to help. I heard someone ask if we were all okay. Then someone said to turn the car off. Wasn't it already? It wasn't moving, we were on the ground. There was snow were my window should have been. They got the baby out through the back of the suv. Then Joel was pulled out. Mom was next and in typical Mom fashion, she made our rescuers laugh. When I got out, all I wanted was to hold my Casey. To see that she was alive and not hurt. I was afraid Mom and Joel were hurt too. I sat with my baby in the sherriff's car while he dug around for my i.d.

Soon Casey and I were in the ambulance. Her little back was hurting. I was so scared. I kept shaking and crying then, I remembered if I cry, Casey will cry. I had to be strong. The EMT, Randy, was so nice. He really kept me focused and he kept Casey calm. Casey didn't want to ride in the car seat in the ambulance. I can't say that I blame her. She had just "fallen" in hers. I know she just wanted me to hold her. On our way to the hospital, I told her princess story to help her get her mind off of being scared. It's a made up story about bubblegum trees and fairies. I also sang her song to her. The song I've sung to her from the day she was born. I can't put it on here, I only know the words when she is in need of comfort. She refused to take off my Mom's hat that I put on her while we were waiting to keep her warm. Where was hers?

The ride home from the hospital was a scary ride for me. I was not driving this time, but every time the tires hit slush I cringed. I cried. I held on. When the car turned, especially when it turned left, I felt us going over again.

We are very lucky. All 4 of us are alive and whole. There were no injuries. We are just battered and bruised. Bruises will heal and fear will recede, our precious lives are still ours to live. Thank you Jesus, thank you angels, thank you God.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Anthony's Snow Day

Snow. Beautiful, sparkling, glistening snow. I like it best when it sparkles in the streetlight late at night. When it is pure and untouched. The Earth seems to fall silent and open her arms to catch it. I have never lived in area that didn’t get snow, and I don’t think I ever will. I would miss it terribly. This winter, my area has seen almost a hundred inches of the stuff. Not all at once, it has spread itself out over several months. The weatherman also said it isn’t done snowing.

We just had a blizzard this week. The wind rattled the window panes and blew the snow every which way it could. I was very much afraid that we would lose power. School was canceled, actually let out early the day of the storm, the county declared a state of emergency and my family and I stayed tucked in our cozy home.

Even though this was a big storm, nothing can compare to the winter I was 9. It snowed long and hard. It snowed for days. Then it snowed some more. I sat in class watching other students get picked up early in the hopes of beating the storm home. Not me. I sat there until the final bell rang. Then I walked home. Squeaking, crunching, shivering. It wasn’t a long walk; I lived four houses away from the school. But still, it was cold.

During that winter, one of the neighbors built the biggest snow fort ever. It was amazing! There were tunnels, rooms, a shelf to stock snowballs and so much more. Unsuspecting neighbor children most certainly got pelted with snowballs before scooping up snow themselves and bombarding us instigators with snowballs. Cold, clean, winter fun.
The school’s playground had so much snow on it the poor people elected to clear the snow (my father and another elder at the church) couldn’t keep it cleared. When they finally got it cleared, there were mountains of snow at least 8 feet high at the edges of the playground. This was the greatest thing ever. At recess, the children ran and played on these mountains.

Now one would think that by the time April rolled around, all of us would be sick and tired of the snow and cold. Nope. Not Anthony. He was my friend, a cute little boy that lived down the street on the next block. He and I sat in class one day that Spring trying to pay attention but not succeeding (we had to sit at the front of the class and I mean at the front, so Mr. Breunger could keep an eye on us. We were usually the ones caught retaliating when the other students picked on us).

“I don’t want to come to school tomorrow,” said Anthony. “I wish it would snow again.”
“Well,” I said, “isn’t your birthday tomorrow? You could pray and ask God for snow as your present. My mom did that once.”
“Would you pray too?’ he asked.

Anthony and I agreed to pray for snow. Enough snow to close school as his present from God for his birthday. In April. We got snow! Anthony got his present. School was closed for the umpteenth time that year and Anthony had a ball playing in the snow for his birthday. In April. All because 2 fourth graders prayed for it.

Years later Anthony was shot and killed in his nephew‘s car at a stoplight. An innocent victim of gang violence. He was home from college for the Holidays. I have never forgotten him and I think of him whenever my children wish for a snow day from school. When I tell them to pray and ask for it, I am thinking of Anthony and our prayers. Snow and snow days seem a little more special to me because of Anthony.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mystery Messages: The tiny things that can change our minds.

I missed church yesterday Lord. The frigid winter wind you sent froze the fuel line in the car. It just wouldn’t start. Later that morning, Mom told me an interesting story of whispers from you. It seems that when we moved from New Jersey to Detroit, she was looking for a specific type of church. A specific denomination. I remember going to a few with her and she said she had another one picked out to try the next Sunday.

That next Sunday came and we were all washed up, dressed up and sitting in the car. The car would not start. There wasn’t a good reason for it to not start, it just wouldn’t. So, we didn’t try the new church. I remember the letdown of not going to church. We hadn’t been in awhile, mainly because we had moved to a new state. We always went to church, Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night and Friday evenings. Church was a huge part of our lives. Monday morning came and the car started. It started everyday that week. Sunday morning came and the family was ready to try that new church. Of all things, that car decided to not start. Again. Same thing happened that week, everyday from Monday to Saturday the car ran just fine. Until Sunday morning.
Well Dad gave up. He decided he was taking us to the church right down the street. On the same block. Walking distance. No excuse not to go. No car needed. We walked four houses down and enjoyed a different service. This was Dad’s church. He had grown up in this church, gotten confirmed in it and attended the school.

Beautiful. Wonderful. Mom didn’t go. By this time she was sick and miserable with some minor but nasty bug. She told me that she lay on the couch talking to you about how much she wanted to go to the church she had picked out. Then she heard you say, “What does it matter the name on the building?”

 It clicked inside her head. The car wouldn’t start on SUNDAYS. Only on Sunday. There was a perfectly good church right down the street. So close that it was almost in the backyard. Mom gave in and went to Dad's old church the following Sunday when she was feeling better. She joined the church. In fact we all did.
That church changed my life. It impacted my thoughts of you and helped me to grow stronger in you. My faith became more firmly rooted in you. Later on, when I was older, I taught Sunday school there.
We never worried about the car not starting again on Sunday morning.

Until yesterday. Perhaps this is a little test for me. Will I go next week? Will I give in to past temptation and sleep in? Nah. I think there is a reason that the car wouldn’t start yesterday. Maybe the cows at the neighboring farm were in the road again and maybe this time I would have hit one instead of narrowly missing them (Yes that happened recently, pretty scary!).

You directed Mom to a different type of church, one that YOU picked out for her. You led her there because you had a purpose for her, a mission for her to complete at that church. She listened to you. The mystery of the car was solved.

It’s funny how something so small can change our lives. A message from you that brought much joy, many tears and a whole world of serving you. I hope that I haven’t ignored some message from you that could have changed my life. Some chance to serve you. I started listening to your whispers in my heart again. That’s what has brought me to this point of attending church again. Another whisper led me to join the choir over Christmas. I’m sure you have something in store for me; I will just have to listen closer to your whispers.

Monday, January 17, 2011

I'll pray myself to sleep

Good morning Lord, it was nice worshipping you today. I know I’ve been a little lax in my daily devotions. It’s been hard to get back into the groove every day. That certainly doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about you. We have had those conversations.

Okay, okay, I know I end up asleep before I’m done with the prayer list, but you know what is in my heart. I have good intentions. Yes, I know I’ve done that all my life. When I was younger, I remember thinking I’ll just pray myself to sleep. I’m sure you got a chuckle out of that. I still remember where I was when it happened the first time, it was in mom’s bed in the loft bedroom in New Jersey. My Sally doll was right there beside me. I think I was a bit worried about something that had happened at school. I started praying and sure enough, fell asleep. I did wake up refreshed, as if we had talked all night long. That day was easier to get through, I knew you were there with me.

The worship service was especially joyful today. A tiny infant was baptized and entered your fold. She didn’t cry as the Holy Water touched her scalp. She seemed to welcome it. I really need to get my little one baptized. The song we sang about the baptism was one I hadn’t heard before. It had the most pleasant melody and the words touched my heart. It reminded me that you are there for all the stages of my life. Here is a snippet of the hymn:

I was there to hear your borning cry, I’ll be there when you are old. I rejoiced the day you were baptized to see your life unfold.

When the evening gently closes in and you shut your weary eyes, I'll be there as I have always been, with just one more surprise. ~ John Ylvisaker.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Whispers

I admit it. I ignored the voice in my heart for many years. I ignored it so well that it almost became silent. I wrestled with myself daily, then weekly, until finally the wrestling was seldom. Gentle reminders from my mother didn’t faze me, instead they washed over me until I just didn’t think about it. One day the whispers grew louder. I stopped what I was doing and said “Okay, I‘m going.”

That’s the day I walked back into the church. The hymnal was different, the service, not as traditional as I had grown up with, but wonderful all the same. The whispers had become the Holy Spirit talking in His normal voice asking me to come back. I did. I have been happier since that day.

Several events led to my decision to go back to church. I found myself often saying to my children; “You need a dose of Jesus in your life.” This usually occurred after I had to referee some serious sibling rivalry battles. I also tried to sing some Sunday School songs to my daughter Casey, 2, and had forgotten many of the words. Hmm, what a shock. Last Easter season, Good Friday I think, I talked with my cousin, who regularly attends the same denomination church in her town a state away, about favorite hymns at Easter. I realized that one of the big things I missed was the hymns. They had always made me feel warmer inside. Then I read about a well known author and her struggles with her conscience that ultimately resulted in her announcement to leave organized religion. She stressed that she had not forgotten her Christianity; she just didn’t want to be a part of the church any longer. I am not of the same organized religion as this author, but I realized that I had essentially done the same thing. I left the church, the worship services. In my case though, I need that service, not because I had lost my faith, that has always been unshakeable, firmly rooted in Him. I need that chance to sing and worship with others, to feel Him beside me in a different way. That day, I felt Him there. He was right beside me.
After that first service, I found myself singing all through the house. I sang so much that my Casey, started mimicking me. She sang La la lula at the top of her lungs. I had been singing This Is the Feast, which includes several Halleluiahs. My heart soared. It was really warm inside. I felt peace. I knew that I had done the right thing. The whispers were now a part of my joy.

My daughters and I have been attending church for almost 3 months. Occasionally my second son reluctantly tags along. My older daughter, Holly, is also taking confirmation classes. Holly and I joined the choir just before Thanksgiving. I hadn’t sung since high school, but I felt another whisper in my heart. So I swallowed some butterflies and joined. That was the second best decision I had made in a long while. We practiced 3 songs to sing at the Christmas Eve candlelight service. One evening, we also went caroling to some of the shut in members. As I stood there singing the old familiar hymns, the joy on the peoples’ faces made my heart flip flop.

After talking to the pastor, I joined the congregation. He asked why there was such a huge gap in my attendance. Of course, I had no good excuse, so I told him that I just hadn’t felt like it. I guess I just felt that there would never be a church to compare with the one I loved so much. The stunningly gorgeous one in Detroit, Michigan. As far as I know, the building still stands and I think there are still services but many things changed. I have been searching for another church just like that one. Now I know that church was always there, it was in my heart the whole time. I plan to continue to attend church, I need to. I need to feel that joy in my heart.