Thursday, September 11, 2014

Never Forget: 9/11

There are days they say you will never forget. Days that are imprinted on your mind, your heart, your soul. Today is a reminder of one of those days. It's funny how the mind works. For me the memory starts almost as if I watched it all unfold from another place. I see myself, sitting on the couch in the soft robe still white from the newness. The smell of coffee filled the air and I was sipping, savoring the first few moments of the flavor.

Then he ran in. The man who just a few months earlier had said I do and slipped a ring on my left hand. His eyes were wide and his breath heavy from tackling the steep stairs up to our attic apartment. Then his words came. Words that would change the course of our history and dash my simple thoughts of safety.  It seems like then time stood still. As we switched on the television and watched in horror, unable to move, as our nation was attacked.

I remember watching the footage of the plane, seemingly veer off course and stare in uncomprehending silence as all manner of thoughts ran through my head. What is the pilot doing? Don't they see the building? Dear God in heaven, all the people......Then it happened again. The broadcasters voice went manic as the true reality of what was happening sunk in. This was not a mistake. This was not some random accident caused by unknown duress in the cockpit.

We sat together, clutching hands that were shaking and sweaty and asked the same question over and over again. Why?

But it wasn't over. The horror had only just begun. People began to jump. Fear  overran all else as the buildings filled with fire and rubble and began to sink in on themselves. But the chaos was not only taking place in New York. Two more planes would crash. One taken over by the passengers in their valiant and heroic acts that saved countless other lives.

In just minutes, the whole course of our country changed.

Through the fear and the pain and the complete bewilderment, we joined hands as a nation and we called on each other for support. Volunteers rose out of the masses and friends and family left their homes to put in countless hours searching, helping, loving those who needed it most. And things changed.

Things changed in ways that are still echoing into today's world. New hatred and old wounds broke open wide and caused dangerous chasms in the midst of healing. Still now we feel the old scar, reopened by a look or dress or accent, and there is misplaced blame and words hurled that can never be taken back. And so the cycle continues and the truth sinks in that we are there will not be change unless we make it so. We can pray for peace, but we must be an example of it as well. Which means we have to stop hating. We have to stop blaming an entire population because of their religion, their name, their headdress. And in doing so we honor those who passed thirteen years ago. Let their names not be tied to a never ending hatred that colors our souls black and tarnishes this nation.

This morning, names were read and voices shook as honor was given to the dead. In history classes and schools, businesses and community centers across this land moments of silence and prayers were sent up in honor of those should still be here. And one thing remains:
We will not forget. 

We will not let their names be silent. We will not let their death go unnoticed. We will honor their lives, their actions, their hopes and dreams. And we will not forget. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Mom's Night Out: And Then It Got Real

I rented Mom's Night Out to watch this afternoon. I have been waiting FOR-EV-ER to watch this movie and was so excited that the Redbox up the street had it in stock. I had envisioned a quiet afternoon, chilling in the basement with the oldest and the babe while the middles played outside. I brewed a fresh pot of coffee and grabbing some trail mix, the toddler, the baby gate and a cuppa I headed downstairs and pushed play. Within the first ten
minutes I was crying with laughter.

I know, I know, they ALL say that. But sister, it's true. From the struggling mommy blogger to the dancing diva. And I can't tell you how comforting it was to see some one on the not-so-big-in-my-basement-screen freaking out over salmonella. (see hubbs, I'm not crazy) There were just so many things in this movie I could relate too: the battle to get to church, the feelings of not being a good enough mom. The guilt of saying no, taking on too much, a crazy house, etc. I swear they've been listening in at my house.

Then it got real, y'all.

The middles? You know, the ones peacefully playing outside? Well they came in. I was listening for the chaos upstairs. I was expecting it. Waiting for it. But I wasn't expecting the smell. Yes, let your mind simmer on that a minute. The smell. Oh there are just so many options of what it could be, aren't there?

Wafting through the air in a cloud of white that instantly brings to mind nurseries and baby behinds is baby powder. Only it's not just in the air. Its all up the stairs. On the door. Down the hall. And as I make my way to X-Man's bedroom I find more. On top of everything both he and the babe own, which has of course been dumped unceremoniously out of any containers and onto the floor in a makeshift fort of white powder mayhem. White powder still flitting through the air and catching on the rays of sunlight filtering in through the window.

I took a few moments before I had what the movie so lovingly referred to as a moment. I gathered them and told them that they would be picking up the room and putting it back in perfect order. Dinner was on the line and bedtimes were raised up a notch. It was 4 in the afternoon, we would be eating at 6. They could join us when finished. Then I turned and calmly went back downstairs, where the babe was now screaming M&M colored tears because he'd been devouring the candy from the trail mix and I had left his sight. The oldest looked at me with a raised brow and asked "Do I smell baby powder?"

I didn't answer. I sat down and hit the play button, only to realize there was more scent in the air, the kind that typically precedes baby powder. Sigh. After changing the babe and watching a bit more of the movie there came a deafening slam from the upstairs, followed by the cry of Lil' Girl. I raced up the stairs, noting the specs of white, and raced to the boys' bedroom where I found her in a puddle on the floor.

Puddle? You ask? Why yes dear reader, a puddle. Here's why: instead of picking up everything on the floor and THEN wiping up the baby powder off the pergo, they decided, in their seven year old infinite wisdom, to get a hand towel from the bathroom, soak it, and "mop" up the mess. Well, to top things off, running through the standing water on the floor sounds like a great idea too, doesn't it? Sigh.

So I calmly picked her up, stood her upright and we went over the logic behind the towel and water. Maybe it wasn't such a great idea? Maybe not. I reminded them again about dinner and bedtime and went back downstairs to finish the movie. By the time I had come back upstairs and started dinner, they were chilling' on the bed, nothing cleaned up. By the time we were sitting down for dinner, they were wailing in the back bedroom. After the babe's bath, they were asking if any dinner was left. And 7 minutes before bath time, they were sitting in their seats at the table, scarfing down their bowls of taco soup. X-Man even managed seconds.

It's amazing what you can do when you want to, isn't it?

So, Mom's Night Out? It's the gospel truth, kids. But the best part is the ending. This is hard work that we do. And we all have our moments. But my favorite line of the whole thing is when Allyson (the main character) is told that God wouldn't give her those kids if he didn't think she could take care of them. That's something I think we mammas need to remember. Even when we don't feel like enough. Because we are. Even if we only have four followers or fifty followers or no followers at all. We are enough. You are enough. And that's the most important thing of all.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Separating Faith and Politics

I had a visit today from a man asking for my vote. I think it is a testament to my advancing age that I thought he seemed so young. Yet not overly idealistic as so many of the young men and women running with passion in their eyes and fire in their heart are. No, this man has seen war. He's served in Afghanistan and Iraq, and I thanked him for his service, for which he humbly said "Of course". He was drawn to service in battle fatigues and now, to service for this country he fought for. His attire has changed, and though I don't know him, it seems as if the fire is the same. But then, he's a Montanan, and that is of course how we roll.

We had an interesting conversation about state and local taxes, jobs for our area and school funding. We met with some differences, more so in that he didn't seem to know the whole breadth of the topic, it wasn't his main platform, after all. We talked bias and party lines. And then I asked the big (at least for me) questions. Gun control and abortion. We saw eye to eye on the gun control bit. We are Americans, we have a Second Amendment right, and the issue doesn't lie in controlling the guns, but in other areas entirely. This is Montana, after all. My husband is currently toting his own firearm deep in the woods in search of food that will indeed (and God willing) feed my family. (Dear Reader you may disagree, but I ask that this not be a battle ground as this is not the premise of this discussion).

It was abortion where we meet odds. There was no argument however and I thought it was interesting when he laid the premise that he was Pro-Choice and also a practicing Catholic. It was as if one balanced the other. Yet he didn't seem familiar with Psalm 139. And when I asked his thoughts on late term abortion, he skirted the issue. He told me that I was the only one who had asked him this. And after he went round about a bit, I asked him again. He didn't have an answer, but to state that I deserved one and he would check our current law.

He doesn't have children, this young man, but said wither certainty that when he does, he wants to raise him here. So I pointed out that I have four. Four who have all been adopted. Two of which have birth mothers who had a prior abortion. And I told him that I wonder what the difference was? What was it that prompted the choice for abortion once, and then not again. I will never know. And my heart breaks for them. For both the mammas and the babes who have been so hurt.

And he was struck for a moment, not sure what to say. I was not crass in my speaking. I was not judgemental, I have so much in my life that could be judged. But I am was curious how he was able to take his separate his legal standing and put it in a nice little box right there next to his faith. Is it that simple? If so, then that says so much to be about some one's heart. You see, the choice to serve our country in the legal fields is kind of a big deal to me. If you want my vote, you want me to back you and the voice you will have for this state and this nation, then I want to see a bit of your heart. I want to know what it is you believe because as much as we as a nation take our personal faith out of the legislation, if we are not bound by what we believe in that chair, then we will never lead this nation in earnest. It is all just talk. A voice. A statement for what gets the vote and what makes the most people happy. If you are not led by a moral conviction, then there is room for sway and change in your stance, and that room is wide open and glittery with the call of more.

More power. More square footage. More horsepower and more drivers and more on the table. It is driven by the desire to gain, and those who sit in that legislation should be driven by the people and backed by your fundamental beliefs.

He told me more than once that I am the first person to ask him these questions. And it seemed to me that this has become an issue that was big in the 90's and has been lost in today. But is it not the same fundamental concerns that we have? If you are willing to stand up for one right, but not another. If you can say you're a man of the Catholic church, but that you will not lead how your faith states you should, that each deserves a time and a place. Then are you not putting God in a box?

At the heart of it, I believe he does want what's best for Montana. And as such I think he would give us voice on many of the issues we are concerned with as a state. But where does his heart lie?


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Whisper

It's been a looooooong time, but I'm joining the girls at the NEW HOME of Five Minute Friday over at Kate's place. Wont you come join us?

Prompt: Whisper.

Go.


When the lullabies cease and the dawn arises,
I'll whisper you to the end of love.

When your knees are wobbly and your fingers chubby,
I'll whisper you to the end of love.

When the swing flies high and the slide rushes down,
I'll whisper you to the end of love.

When the school bells ring and the pencils are sharpened,
I"ll whisper you to the end of love.

When the friends don't call and the world seems jaded,
I'll whisper you to the end of love.

When the you're first love-struck and the heartbreak comes,
I'll whisper you to the end of love.

When the cap is placed and the tassel switched sides,
I'll whisper you to the end of love.

When the satin is white and the tie is black,
I'll whisper you to the end of love.

When the bag is packed and the water breaks,
I'll whisper you to the end of love.

When the world seems a dangerous place,
I'll whisper you to the end of love.

When the roles are turned and you sing to me,
I'll whisper you to the end of love.

When you tuck me in as I once tucked you,
I'll whisper you to the end of love.

When all seems lost and I am gone,
I'll whisper you to the end of love.

Stop.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The #IceBucketChallenge

He had a voice like taffy pulled and stretched, soft and a little sticky and a laugh that could be heard for miles. His smile reached right on up to those blue eyes that twinkled and sent the message that he knew just who he was and where he was going. He had a heart ten gallons deep and overflowing and he loved his family and his Jesus.

He teased my mamma when she was little and then took her for rides in his car and stood in her wedding because that's what brothers do. He could tell a story and sing a song like nobody's business. But the music ended too soon.

His name was Lester. He was burly and teddy bear soft. He was my uncle. He died about thirteen years ago from a disease we know little about. He died from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease. ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that robs the body and leaves the mind crystal clear. It is a living nightmare.

I'm sure you've heard of it. There are challenges floating all around social media where you dump a bucket of ice water on your head and donate to alsa.org to help find a cure to this currently incurable disease. The challenge has received a lot of hassle. People who think it's stupid to dump some water on your head and then ask others to do the same. And while it may seem silly, the ice bucket challenge has actually raised a substantial amount of money. Over $88.5 million, for a disease that up until a few days ago, most people had never heard of it.

But like any good thing, there's a debate. See current research is focusing on stem cells. Traditionally stem cells come from a fertilized embryo. This constitutes an ethical dilemma on multiple fronts, for myself included. This issue is why many are respectfully declining the challenge. They don't want to support embryonic stem cell research. I get that. I have my qualms about it also. I don't think it's right. But here's the other side of the coin: because this research has had so many ethical concerns, those conducting research for ALS are conducting the majority of it on grown stem cells from adult skin cells. And my two cents is this: ALS is a disease which has received little recognition, yet people die from it each day. This challenge, this silly act of dumping water on yourself has brought MILLIONS of dollars to research that may one day stop the progression of this disease. Money that assists in finding a cure. Money that allows researchers to travel other paths than embryonic stem cells. Because with additional funds, new options are available. How can we ask researchers to find a new option, if we don't give them any choices?

So tomorrow I'll be answering a challenge set out to me by my friend and cousin. I'll be filling a bucket with ice water. I'll stand on the grass of my backyard with my hubby on the deck, poised and ready to let the water flow. And with wet hair and a heart of memories, I'll fill in my credit card information and donate to the #IceBucketChallenge. And as I hit submit, I'll think of my uncle, his laugh, and that twinkle in his eye, and I'll pray for a cure.

Monday, August 18, 2014

I See You

I see you.

I see you college girl. Books stacked high and a double major hanging around your neck like the apron you sling on for the late night shift that helps pay tuition. I see you bite your nails and the end of that pen as the midnight oil burns and you pray for just one more test to pass and another class to master. I see you prep for that lab and try to ignore that cute boy in the back that's just so darn distracting. I see you pull on that black dress and strap on some heals as you hide behind the false bravado of 22.

I see you.

I see you mamma. With your hair pulled back and your business suit on, the one with banana on the sleeve because that babe needed breakfast before the mad dash to the sitter. I see you in the driver's side seat, buckled and strapped in as you glance in the rear view to catch a picture of your future. Graduation caps and wedding vows reflected in those perfect eyes in the car seat. I see you as you blink back the tears when you hand the babe over to the woman who is not the mamma but will play one for the day so you can help put bread on the table and shoes on the feet. I see you when you sit in that meeting or behind that cash register or serving tray, balancing the budget in your head and play dates and the car pool while trying to remind yourself to be where your feet are. I see you when you scrub off the spaghetti and kick off the heels and try to comfort your heart for another day gone.

I see you.

I see you beautiful girl. The one with the running pants on that are a bit too tight because the last few years have been hard and you've taken second seat to the late night feedings and the chaos of day to day life. I see you hiding behind that pony tale and headband in the back of the room where you try to shake more of what your mamma gave you and less of what the pizza left behind. I see you as you hide behind your towel in the locker room because all around you are the girls who look like they live on water and carrot sticks and sleep on the weight bench.

I see you.

I see you stay at home mamma. With the sweatpants on and the t-shirt that has a hole in it. I see you as you rise at the crack of dawn to sooth the babe back to sleep so your man can have another hour of rest before he goes to work. I see you snuggle on the couch under blankets and jammies and Pooh Bear books when the nose is running and the fever is spiked. I see you wiping up the glue and putting away the scissors only to bring them out again in ten minutes because glitter is an outside sport and it's raining. I see you when he walks in and sees the sticky floor and the piled up dishes and your heart falls as you read his mind and he thinks what does she do all day?

I see you.

I see you college girl. Books stacked high and a double major hanging around your neck like the apron you sling on for the late night shift that helps pay tuition. I see you bite your nails and the end of that pen as the midnight oil burns and you pray for just one more test to pass and another class to master. I see you prep for that lab and try to ignore that cute boy in the back that's just so darn distracting. I see you pull on that black dress and strap on some heals as you hide behind the false bravado of 22.

I see you.

But most importantly, so does He.

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?
And yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 
Indeed the very hairs on your head are numbered. 
Don't be afraid, you are worth so much more than sparrows.
Luke 12: 6-7

He sees you. 

Photo by Dennis Hekenbraunelle via Flicr 
He sees you, when the running pants are tight and the jiggle is more than you can bear. He sees you when you hide behind that office door and cry for the moments spent away. He sees you when you bomb that test and pray for redemption at finals. When you feel like the world is caving in and you can't take another stressor. He sees you when the candles on the birthday cake keep growing in number and your goals seem farther and farther away. He sees you, when the phone call comes and your heart sinks and you fall to your knees in anguish. 

He holds you. 

He holds you, when all hope seems lost and the winds just keep on raging. He holds you when the diagnosis comes in and the prognosis is grim.  He holds you, when the world seems like it's falling apart from all the hate and anger and you're afraid to let your children out the door. He holds you, when you feel used up and beat up and broken.

 He loves you. 

He loves you when you feel unlovable. He loves you when you feel less than okay. He loves you when you don't love yourself. He loves you. And he offers you grace. 

Grace like the wings of a sparrow. And you are worth far more than a sparrow, so this grace he offers you? It's priceless. And this love he showers you with? It is a golden rain. And these arms he holds you in? They are mighty and strong and gentle as a new father. And these eyes he sees you with? They are perfect and look over your imperfections to see the you that he created you to be. That girl. That mamma. That woman. 

He sees you.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

#GoingThere

I get so frustrated. At night I lay awake in my bed, the hot air pressing down on me and the anger and frustration in my heart that sits like a lump of coal on my chest. I beg for answers. I plead for understanding. And I curse this humanity that has us at each other's throats each day. And today, I'm #GoingThere with Deidra Riggs.

 The wages of sin is death. I've heard this rolling around in the sermons and down the pews since my birth. The callousness and crassness of this earth that just keeps on spinning despite the fact that we are burning it down with our rubber bullets and poisonous tongues and the lack of regard for another living, breathing soul is enough to make my stomach sour and my mind ache at the mere thought of rising to another day.

Photo from Good Morning Girls
My life? It's been charmed compared to so many. Yes I've had troubles and at times my burden seems more than I can bear, but there is so much I don't have. I don't wake each day wondering if a bomb will rain down on my home. I don't enter my streets with trepidation and concern that my child will be taken because we carry the title of Christian. Aside from my few months living under the hot sun of Africa, I have never been a minority. Never worried that the police will gun down my son because they fear the color of his skin.

And why the hell does it happen now? Why in this nation that has so many red marks and a tainted past do we continue to turn from our history and keep doing the same things over again?

A mother should not have to worry about her child for the mere tone of his skin.

A country should not hide away the past so that it can continue to sweep under the rug the disparities of the present.

And what of me? Of my family? Of this church and this body? How revolting is it that I had not even heard of the tragedy in Ferguson until days after when my Facebook feed was lit up with indignation.

But it seems like I keep writing these posts. Bits of my words where I plead for the Savior to show his mighty hand and I beg for the church to stand with me. For our lips to not be silent for the needs of our fellow man. And where are we? Where are you ladies?

Two messages keep coming to me this week: choose joy and God will fight for me, I need only be still (Exodus 14:14). I get the choose joy part. It's been a beautiful and difficult summer all rolled into one ridiculously hot package. Being reminded to choose joy is a good thing. But the second, I've kept rolling around this in my head: what battle do I need fought? Where am I lacking, my strength faltering?

And then it hit me: right here. Right here in this moment, at this table. Right here there is a spiritual battle raging that goes so far beyond skin color and where we live, but chooses these needles of the soul to poke and prod each other with. Right here in the midst of this nation and spreading out to this world we are at war. And when he says he will fight for me, I don't believe that means I need to remain inactive.

This battle is not one fought with the sword of steel, but instead the sword of truth. Our words are knives that can be used to cut down the disparity in this world or to cut the hearts of our neighbor. We have only to choose which side to be on. Yet if we are still, if we allow him to move us, to carry us, to speak through our mouths and hedge up this battle on the front lines of our faith, only then can we see change. Because here is the thing: there is a difference between being still and being idle. Idle is wasted, stillness listens to the voice that guides and allows the spirit to move.

Only if we allow him to fight for us. If we pick up that sword of truth and all the father to wield it through our nimble arms, only then can we cut down the poison of mistrust and racism. Only then can the genocides be put to an end and our mother's hearts will rest at night.

So be still, my friends. Be still my neighbors. Be still and strong and courageous and this battle, this war, will be won.

Jumping in with Jennifer Dukes Lee to #TellHisStory.