Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I hear the high chair slide across the tile floor behind me, whipping around just in time to see her hit the floor. Her immediate cries let me know she's probably going to be fine, but will definitely need some comforting.

Scoop up, rub back, allow screams to penetrate eardrums and reach to heart. Not easy watching her endure physical pain, though I am even more fearful of emotional, mental and spiritual pain she will also one day endure. It's can be much more difficult to know exactly how to offer comfort for those situations, and honestly, I know I won't be able to be there for all of them.

I wipe away tears, whispering "you're ok, it's ok...was that a little scary?"

She stops, for a moment. "No, mama, gwig one."

"Gwig one?"

"Yes...gwig one."

"Oh...was it a big scary?"

"Yes, mama, gwig scary."

Moments later, she's back to playing after a discussion about not standing on high chairs, being careful so she doesn't fall. But "big scary" will stick with me.

undeserved love

Monday, October 27, 2014

It bothers me when love is talked about as something that one "deserves" or does not "deserve". When I think about it, love simply is - it depends not on any action of the recipient. This is most obvious to me personally in my relationship with my daughter. Do I love her perfectly? No. But when I really think about it, even when I imagine her potentially doing some of the worst things possible, I can't imagine being able to stop myself from loving her, because my love for her just is. It exists. Would I be crushed? Absolutely. Saddened? Completely. Angry? Yes. But would I stop loving her? I'm only 2 years in to this being a parent thing, but I can't even begin to wrap my mind around how I would begin to stop. There might be a different depth to my love, more of a weight to it perhaps, but it would still be love. In fact, if my love for her could be stopped (and I'm willing to concede that it might be possible, simply because I know I don't love her perfectly), a good portion of the world might say I never really did love her to begin with. We all seem to have this innate knowledge that says that love that can be deserved is no love at all. Already, I love my daughter more and with greater knowledge of the sacrifice of love than I did on the day she was first born.

So when love is talked about as something "deserved" or "undeserved", it makes me feel like love has been cheapened into this thing that can be earned. "Earn" is even a synonym of "deserve" (did I just Google that? Yes, yes I did). One can earn money. One can earn notoriety. One can earn a prison sentence. One can earn points in a game. But one cannot earn love...right?

I guess this bothers me most when applied to God, the one who loves perfectly. I think sometimes when people talk about not deserving God's love, what they really mean is they don't deserve what happened as a result of God's love. There's a song we sing at church that I like, but I can't get past this one part of it that talks about how God "loved a people undeserving". I always get a little stuck there because of these thoughts surrounding love and what it is. The way I see it, it's because of God's love that God took action that we didn't deserve. I certainly don't deserve forgiveness for my sins, but God offers it anyway because of his great love for me - his offer of forgiveness isn't even up to me, it's only within my "control" to accept it. God wants restoration of relationship, and it only happens when forgiveness is offered and taken. But being deserving of God's love is neither here nor there...I'm not sure love is something that can be "deserved".


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I am in the bathroom when I hear her get up from her nap. I don't open the door right away because, well, 30 more seconds of alone time will be just enough to help me prepare for the rest of the day. I am hiding. but pretty soon she starts to produce whimpering sounds, so I relent, opening the door and calling her name.

"Mommy", she says, pointing toward our room, "I look in der, find mama."
"Oh, were you looking in there for mama?"
"But you didn't find her?"
"I'm sorry, babe, I was in here. Did that worry you that you couldn't find me?"
"Is scary, mama."

And you feel that momentary pang of guilt mixed in with reassuring yourself that she was perfectly fine and that 30 second breaks are ok.


being serenaded by "Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star" sung at the top of her lungs from her perch on the potty as I fold laundry in the bedroom, smiling and thinking about how much I will someday miss how her exuberance fills this space we call our home...reaching to walls, ceilings and spilling over into streets, city, world. It will always have been a privilege for it to have started here, but that kind of joy can't and shouldn't be contained - it must move. Go, little joy! Spill over again and again and again!


Monday, October 13, 2014

(photo by Ashley C. Cameron, my cousin)

In the 2+ years that we have now lived in California, I've come to recognize the pattern of missing real fall weather - or fall weather as I grew up knowing it, along with all the fall activities that were a part of my childhood and early adulthood. Crisp fall air, changing leaf colors to brilliant reds, golds, sunny yellows, oranges and every mash-up of those in between, brightening the landscape even as the days slowly darken. Cider aplenty at the grocery store, cider mills running and greasy cinnamon sugar sprinkled donuts to go with, pumpkins ready for the picking. It's possible to not pay too much attention to the changes as they happen, to keep going through daily routines, but even the most focused person would notice if all of these things didn't happen. Just as I notice it every fall when the calendar flips from August to September to October, and still the days are hot, the air is dry, and the only thing that reminds me that fall is technically here is the addition of pumpkin spice flavor to just about any food you can think of.

this is when I most miss home - family and Michigan. I think I always have this steady undercurrent of feeling a bit out of place in California, but fall accentuates this. This past August marked the beginning of our 3rd year living here, and this past week I realized I have been in a kind of bargaining conversation with God during the whole time we have lived here. "Ok, God, I can give you 5-7 years here. I can do that. It's nice - sunny, not terribly difficult to get to for family, good new friends, great food and produce. But 5-7 years, God, do you hear me?" But the question I am afraid to face...what if He wants us here longer? Nope. 5-7 years, right God? 

I have a huge desire to be closer to family. I never really pictured raising my kids 3 time zones away from their grandparents, visiting at Christmas and once in the summer, and maybe even less as traveling becomes more expensive. I never thought, as I navigate the world of being a mom, that my own mom would be more than a car drive away, even if that car drive would take several hours. Our visits will always be planned, never spontaneous, never "hey, I have Friday off, want to get together?" or "hey, we are thinking about a date night this weekend - would you want to take the grandkids for an overnight?" I grow a little jealous of friends here whose families live nearby (which, on my worst days, feels like everyone I know but me), even if relationships with those families seem to be strained sometimes. I am having to learn dependence on friends who started off as strangers. Many of them have been generous. I am not good at being dependent.

That question, though. It is constantly there right now. And I do want to arrive at the place where, if He says He wants us to be here for 15-17 years, or 57 years, that I would not only be ok with it but joyful in it, because we will be right in the center of where He wants us to be, the best place. I'm just not there yet. Not yet home.

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