Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Back, Jack

Bags are still loitering around our house, filled with items waiting to be put back proper-like.  But we left them, sad and end-of-a-great-trip-deflated, and stole away for some final family moments of vacay.

For breakfast we Panera-picnicked-and-played at the park.

We returned home for my littlest love to dream of swings and slides while Jon and Eden went for a daddy-daughter-date...to the pool.  Edie's first time.  Turns out chica's got gills.  Wish I had the pictures to prove it.  I asked her what her favorite part was and she told me, all brave-like, "Swimmin' in the deep."  She followed that up with a second favorite: dumping water on Dada's head.  That's my brave, silly little fish.

Back to the blanket for dinner, complete with lighted-tennis-courts.  Nothing candled or fancy, but fun for our little fam, eatin' melon and brats and watchin' Daddy do one of the things he loves.

I hope they grow up lovin' it, too...

Much to come about Tennessee.  The time was so good.  The week was, as usual, not long enough.  We left the land of mossy rock and red dirt with full hearts. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bacation, All I Ever Wanted

Since the Spring before Jon and I were married, my family has gone to Tennessee.  Just us; just the six of us.  Something my parents wanted to do before our six expanded to seven.  And that first time was like crack.  We've gone back ever since.  We start to countdown the days almost as soon as we return.

The packing train does not break for late night/early morning combos.  It keeps chugging past.  It doesn't not wait around for sore throats to clear up or littles to quit fighting sleep like ninja warriors.  It does, however, slow down for painting toenails, playing ball, tent pizza parties, and birthday celebrations an hour away.  Somethings are just worth the wait.

Each year's trip to the land of banjos and sweet tea holds it's own magic and memories for us. Our posse of six then seven has expanded to 14, avec bun in oven this year.  Hair and cabins have changed, too.  Serious hiking has been replaced with a more leisurely kind to accommodate littles and preggo mommas. This year, hiking is mostly out of question for me but even that's a bit of this year's magic - discovering new.  And all the while, we enjoy the monuments that have stood throughout: time together.

I don't exactly know what it is about this place. Maybe it's the relaxed time together, the vacation mode we settle so well into. Maybe it's that all our memory making happens in the backdrop of the Smokey Mountains.  But we love that our kids will grow up vacationing here.

And we don't have to countdown much longer 'cuz we leave tomorrow; all so ready for "bacation," as Eden puts it.

Good-on-top-of-good?  Kate's MRI results were good.  If you have been praying, thank you and please keep it up.  Kate starts her next round of chemo next week.

Packing train needs to keep rolling, miles to go.  Happy Fridaying, all!

Monday, May 16, 2011

To Skin

Our lives are thwart with blessing.  Tea parties in the afternoon, doggies included.

Sunshine and visits from friends who get us and bring with them the warmth of familiar.

But it's hard to live in the "other side" seasons of life.  The moments, however long they are strung together, where disappointment and devastation come in waves, stripping you down to skinIt's gutsier still to admit aloud that your new home address is 291 Heartache Way.

Holly McRae's words of her sweet Kate ring so raw and real:

And so some days I still morn. Life as it once was. Hopes and dreams that nowhere included cancer at the age of 5. Nor 2 more brain tumors at the age of 7. It is a battle not to curse the leg brace some days. Not to resent some peoples seemingly easy and seemless life. Not to be offended hearing people stress and worry over having the best of schools, knowing school for Kate could be a future source of frustration now. That is reality, the little things you still struggle with that you wish you didn't. The occasional hurtful comment that you wish didn't sting, but it still does. But here is the thing I have noticed. Those moments of remembering, wanting so desperately to go back, wanting to brush Kate's blonde curls one more time and slip a cute new pair of flip flops over her feet. Those desires have lessened with time. Of course I still want them, I want Kate to use her right hand, I don't want to see her leg muscles atrophy, I want her mind to be sharp and alert in the future. But I love my new Kate. I love that her tenacious spirit allows her to pull off her hat in class and sit balder than all of the boys. I love that some days she will tell me "mom, i really want to wear flip flops again one day. But, if I don't it's really not a big deal. It's okay." I love that her beauty from the inside has shined brightest during the ugliest of storms. She loves life, and doesn't fear death. She doesn't fear it, but she really wants to live. And so now, there are more moments where despite the frustration, and at times fear, I feel so grateful to still have her for now. As I know far too many mothers that don't. That I can tuck her in at night, or hold her during a movie. That we can still talk about life and dream about the future. Those are the moments I realize, yes, she is still battling a life threatening cancer, but she is still living. And I am trying too.

Please join the McRaes, begging obnoxiously for a Good God to touch Kate and heal her body.  She will have an MRI tomorrow morning.  Please pray for the results to be life...and more life.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

On Being Mom

I love being a momma.  And I know it's a couple days past Mothers' Day, but sometimes, a few days removed offer best perspective.

The days can be grey and cloud-covered, I can go to bed ticking off all the ways I have failed them, but the next day, the sun comes up and my kids greet me with all-things-new-face in the morning. 

Jon asked Eden who her best friend was on Mother's Day.  She said, Momma.  And I bottled that up, stored on a shelf of the blessings of motherhood.  I'm gonna need to build more shelves.

I love these two little people who call me Momma.  Not because of what they have done or who they might become, simply for who they are.

Sunday was a lovely day with my momma (we missed our Momma Metz!).  My sister and I cooked - Lemon Pasta (thank you Pioneer Woman) and Pecan Crusted Chicken (at least this part was GF, Sara!) - we decorated; we even broke out the cloth napkins and table covering.  'Cuz she's our mom...and she's been there, cheering us on, correcting our steps, laying herself aside, all along the way.

Photo by Kenna.  And yes, that's me as a cheerleader.  It was Halloween.  Don't judge.

Mother's Day always gets me thinking about legacy, about the women who went before me, about my daughter who will go after me. 

It's just a day, Mother's Day, but it's like a giant pause button is pushed, allowing for closer inspection.  And you marvel and appreciate and soak it up.  I wonder what traditions my kids will carry on, will they eat popcorn with tomato soup; will they sing spontaneously throughout the day; will they know they can resolutely trust in their Heavenly Father, even if their hearts are shattered.  Will they love...because they knew love.

Photo by Kenna.

Photo by Kenna.

Cheers to you, Mommas, who love littles.  Cheers to you, Grand-mommas, who love your littles' littles.  Cheers to you Aunties who love your nieces and nephews like they are your own.  And cheers to the presence of woman in our lives - nurturing, encouraging, sheltering, celebrating.  Whether you birthed us or just stood beside us, we are all better people because of you.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

lost and found.

I wish I was better at introductions and segues.  I'm not.  And with that said, I hope you'll permit me to just dive right in to some of the very personal things I have been processing through.

I believe we are here on purpose, for purpose.  We have a destiny, a role to fulfill.  I believe we each have a unique place and are the only ones who can fill it - and if we do not, we deprive the world of our gifts.  Perhaps you are certain that your place in this crazy world is to be a foster parent.  Or maybe to be an art teacher.  Maybe a woman who works hard for her family.  Maybe a man who invents the next big thing and changes a piece of the world.

But what do you do when you aren't sure what it is you were made for?

I know I was made to be a daughter, sister, friend, wife, mother.  I AM those things.  And I bloody well want to dig deep and be the best of those things I can be.  I love my life.  And I would be content to remain quiet and small, living well in the life I am in.

But honestly, there is a fear that lurks in the shadowy recesses of my heart.  Am I fulfilling my design?  Am I living my purpose?  Is my role an empty stage presence...obvious to onlookers that something's...missing.  Someone is missing...  Am I just facing the typical discontentments of life and need to remember to appreciate where I am. 

I read an article this week that continued to stoke the fires of question and discovery.  I'll give a very botched version, but if you're interested you can read more here.  The post was written by author/book mentor, Mary DeMuth, and how so many people she encounters are passion-lost.  She suggests three steps in discovering your passion: 1.) ask yourself what the world's biggest need is, 2.) list your three favorite movies and decipher their common thread, and 3.) ask people what your "one thing is" - the thing they'd say best describes you. 

Here's mine: 

I perceive the world's greatest need to be hope.  And, in the spirit of hope, to be given the tools needed to rise out of current situations.  Tools like clean water, that people don't have to bathe and drink from the same water source.  That they may be freed from countless diseases, all because of the tool of a well.  Tools like the skills of farming and jewelry-making, that women and children can support themselves and not fall prey to trafficking, property theft and other exploitations.  I believe hope is empowering.  Life can be different.

My top three (it was hard to choose): 1.) The Four Feathers, 2.) Walk the Line, 3.) Les Miserables.  Common thread?  Broken people who've made a disaster of their lives and are offered a second chance...and that second chance makes all the difference.  Life is never the same for them again.  In a word, redemption.

I so do not want to follow up on #3.  Talking to my husband one night this week, he told me that I need to risk more.  I am a private person.  Mostly because there is so much going on in the world and my life is good.  In part, too, I am private to protect - myself and my family from vulnerability.  In this blog, I wrestle at times with how much and what to share for the sake of that protection.  But here I am - sharing more personally than I have, stripping off layers of confidence to admit that my inner life is not as neat as it appears.  And I hate asking, but I am.  If you are reading this, whether or not you know me well or have commented on a post before, what is my one thing? 

It strikes me that you, wherever in the world you are reading this, could be in a similar pilgrimage of question and discovery.  A journey of wrestling and wondering.  Over the Rhine would sing, The gift of your heart frees me from mine.  And I love that, hearts that unfold and disclose together, whispering to each other, you are not alone.