Christmas has come and gone, a new year waits just over the next sundown and I'm going over the last days, weeks and months in my foggy depths. All I can see was good; it was very, very good.
My parents are here visiting for two weeks, more than one of which has become memories. Great memories, the kind that can live on when they fly back to New York.
We only planned a couple of things (other than the big birthday celebration last weekend) intentionally keeping it low key for everyone. When they arrived at the airport it was amazing to see them. I was incredibly grateful to grab them and hug them, not before my kids ran to be scooped up by the same arms that have held me at every age, however. As soon as we arrived at home this song popped into my head and hasn't left.
It was a mildly warm July day, I stood outside, phone sandwiched between my ear and shoulder pacing around our patio table. I watched my kids playing, shrieking and running as I listened to his voice, the words seemed far away. They were almost unbelievable, I thought the tests would come back normal, but they didn't. Indeed, my dad had prostate cancer.
I don't think I fully came to grips with it for awhile, maybe not until I saw him in flesh again last week. He had cancer. The rest of the summer was filled with phone calls updating on test results, scans and procedures. Jokes about being injected with radioactive something or other the day of the bone scan and how I should look on the horizon to see if I could see him glowing from 2000 miles away.
The Dr's were positive and more importantly my Dad was positive too. Certain that they could remove it and he would be cured. My mom, I could tell even from afar, was an amazing assistant to him, supporting him. Even though she needed to have her own biopsy and lump removal in the middle of all of his tests, which, praise God, was cancer free.
One day in early fall, my dad had his cancer removed. My brother was there to be with my Mom and my kids kept me distracted. I prayed. It was what I could do; I was unable to get back there to hold his hand one more time or sing of God's faithfulness. I prayed and sang with my children. For the surgeons to work carefully and correctly, that God would let me have my dad for a bit longer. That we still had more words to say to one another, that my kids needed more memories. I prayed for comfort for all of us, whatever His will would be.
The process of healing began and the praises rang out towards the heavens and many weeks later one last phone call about one last test, the cancer is completely gone! Hallelujah! So I can sit now, between my dad and husband, crocheting on the couch and listen to them playfully taking jabs at one another and hear his footsteps on my floor. I found myself this Christmas, kneeling humbly at the foot of the manger whispering to the only innocent babe, thank you, thank you for one more Christmas.
When one child decides to upend a behavior, about face and totally change, what can I do? Besides pull my hair out, talk until my eyes bug out, what!?
I'm hoping it's just the excitement of the season, but my little girl, takes hours to fall asleep. It used to take her five minutes. I was used to this when my son was her age, he always took hours to get to sleep, I learned that there is no super glue safe for eyelids *wink.*
I know that there is nothing I can do to make another person fall asleep - even though she says every night that if she can sleep in my be she'll go right to sleep- ya, right. It is just really throwing me for a loop this time.
For everything there is a season, I suppose, I'm having a glass of water toasting this a short season. Yespleasethankyou! Really, I'm just glad she still climbs into bed with us early morning, it's the only time I get to snuggle her anymore.
She's so busy, she loves babies, puzzles, games and pretty much anything that is mine! Seriously, she loves making a mess, but this is not a new behavior, also grateful she can clean up after herself more. If it's not toothpaste on the walls, it's diaper cream on stuffed animals or foaming handsoap in the doll house for a bubble bath.
Then there are stickers stuck to every surface not to mention water. God help us if I leave a cup of water upstairs, it gets poured out into a teapot or other suitable or unsuitable container, for that matter, then refilled until forcibly removed. Yesterday topped them all: fabric paint on the carpet. I was so grumpy about it, but it comes out easier than diaper ointment thanks to Dawn, my trusty friend.
She is so creative and imaginative and I love and admire that. Life does come with limitations, or at least the house we live does. I believe we are above the mazimum allowable cups of water dropped on the carpet already!
I need to take the babies to the store. I'll change the diaper, but you need to feed them the milk. Awwwww, don't cry, you're okay. Stop arguing right now, fine, time out. It's night, night time, sweet dreams. Morning time, time to wake up and get dressed sweeties.
I love when my children play babies, my daughter is such a tender mom, flinging a baby on each hip and changing diapers like a pro. There is a tender place in my heart for these times. I remember playing that way, now I'm the mom, how on earth!?! Seems like I could be back in the room with the burnt orange and brown shaggy carpet with a large wooden cradle stuffed to the gills with my babies.
Taking the role of Dad seriously I smile at the tenderness my son shows in only these times. Being the people person he is, he's happy to play babies if it's all his sister will do, even though he'd rather play with his super hero figures, legos or firemen. I adore him for that.
I also adore that when another little boy told him that boys don't like babies (we were cooing over a baby that was baptized) he stood his ground and said yes we do! They need a Dad too!
Some days my heart is heavy, until God picks it up. I often think of the poorest of people and how they can even smile on a day they haven't had anything to eat. My thoughts wonder if their children can bring a chuckle out of them, even if they can't bring home clean water, the way my son knows just the right time to bring in the silly.
The subject of giving came up in my Pilates class last Friday and as we begin a set of leg lifts, I mention blessing others with clean water in the third world. Immediately two women, who I adore, began talking at once, and they are not saying the words I expected to hear. My brain is trying to take in what they both are now alternating as my leg is rotating in circles. I lead another change in exercise, on to inner thighs now, I process.
First's argument is that the government will just come and undo whatever good is done upon the do-gooders departure. Second's argument is she'd rather help those in our country before helping other countries.
I am able to overcome First's perspective right away from what I have been told first hand from several different missionaries overseas. Sadly, I'm sure this has happened, but God has asked us to give. Should we really think that not giving is better than giving that is torn away. Most of what I know is that the governments allow the people to help and tolerate their presence.
Sitting up, we stretch, prayers stretching heavenward, God there are 12 other people in this class please let them not be swayed by these two opinionated, bold women. Sending my other side down onto the mat, I give simple directions, everyone knows we are repeating the same exercises, perfect opportunity for me to start talking and just as I do three other women pipe up and respectfully disagree with First's harshness.
I move on as Second still insistently says I'm going to help my own first. There is a lul, why does it have to be one or the other, I offer. Why can't it just be giving to those who are needy, regardless of the lines that mark them in somewhere or out otherwhere? I find soft smiles in a couple of quiet women. I wonder if they think I'm stuck in my ideals not really knowing that the world is a sin laden broken place. I know, which is why I hope I'm always stuck here.
I am purposed in my words, if there is such a need then who are we if we do not give. I agree, there are poorest of poor people here, where the lines tell us we one, and I love giving to our local food banks, battered women's shelters and the like. The difference I find is that our government has programs in place to aid many needy the vast majority of whom have access to clean, safe drinking water.
The third world has no programs, nobody hears the cry of the parents for their children, nobody reaches their hands out and how could they. A missionary told our church on Sunday that half of Haiti does not eat on any given day. 50%. How can I comprehend, I feed a snack loving three year old 6 times a day.
Back to stretching and reaching upward, I am reminded that Jesus said, "The poor you will always have with you." (Mark 14:7) I wonder if we will always have them so that we can always have more opportunities to be his hands and feet. More days to say, yes Jesus, I will feed and nourish your children, like you feed and nourish me.
Some days my heart is light because I give it to Him - the Great giver of joy- upon waking. Joy, the more of life I experience, the more it is revealed, only comes from one place. Joy is not revealed in how perfect our lives look, how we feel on the inside or look on the outside. Feelings, appearances, careers are all so mercurial. I imagine there is a silly boy on the other side of the world, bringing forth a smile from his mother's dry lips only because of that Joy.
Shoveling is one of my favorite chores. Especially since it is usually accompanied by little squeals of delight from the smaller persons! Now we are all worn out! (Well, I hope they are and KNOW I am!)
I love to learn and am constantly doing so.
I'm married to my soul mate and the love of my life. We have two beautiful blessings, a six year old son and a three year old daughter.
Life just keeps getting better!