Thursday, February 25, 2010

February 25

Today my sister, Tiffany, would be turning 35. It's weird for me to think of her as "old," since that is something she never was. But she was my contemporary. Just 17 months younger than me, we hit developmental stages at roughly the same time and so my dreams of her continue in this fashion. I dream that she has kids too, or that (and I really like this one) she comes to visit and cleans my kitchen. When I wake from such dreams, I sometimes keep imagining. I picture her more than willing to stay in our cold basement (it serves as our guest room), but also could see her winning my little girls over and ending up snuggling in bed with them. I guess I will always really miss her - the her that she was when we were growing up, the tormented her of her 20s, but also all that she might have become.

This past week - well into Lent and still deep in winter snow - has seemed pretty dark. Part of it, I'm sure, is that I'm always sad this time time of year. My body remembers to grieve before my mind. Plus - the lack of light and fresh air really take it's toll. It's late February when I start looking for real estate in Texas and cursing the very snow that looked so picturesque just weeks before.

But it seems like like this February was worse than "normal." It's one thing to grieve, but quite another to despair. I wandered around for a few days feeling sorry for myself until I realized what was really going on. In truth, it has not been the pain of loss causing my sadness. No, embarrassingly enough, it was my choice to focus on the meaningless superficial distractions of life. Oh my house is just so small, our finances never improve - and on and on. I witnessed first hand how dwelling in the muck of greed, vanity or jealousy just poisons you.

To be honest, I was actually a bit grateful to come back to grief. There is something very pure about grief that forces you to face your faith head on. Is God real? And if He is, what the hell are you doing? I mean in the light of God's presence, my girls' lack of matching bedroom furniture seems awfully petty.

In the Orthodox Church, we refer to the Lenten experience as a "bright sadness." I love that - and in many ways, that is how grieving is for me. It's no doubt painful - but also beautiful, because behind it lies meaning, purpose - and God. Sin is not like that - sin just takes you down deeper into more insecurity, more pain and no hope.

This lent, Bobby and I are also celebrating another pregnancy. Only three months in, I'm still really nervous. The wound of losing our little baby Adrian is quite fresh - and I'm scared of feeling that pain again. What's keeping me going, however, is the realization that it is not grief or loss that causes despair. It's sin. I can truly feel more pain just sitting around focusing on the weight I'm gaining, the anthropologie catalogue, or our how we "never go to the city anymore." Isn't that ridiculous? Letting sinful thoughts percolate unattended, will inevitably lead to misery. And truly, I'm tired of that. As scary as it is, - I'd rather put forth the effort - for confession, prayers, services, communion that enable me to experience God's presence now.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Through Isabelle's eyes

For Christmas, Isabelle got a new camera. She's only six, so this was a pretty "big girl" present. But her grandmother and I knew (based on past history with her dolls) that she would care for it with the responsibility required. This past weekend she used the camera to document a conference we attended in Louisville. Both her daddy and aunt Molly spoke at the conference. I was glad she was there to capture the event.

More interesting to me, though, was flipping through the photos on her pink digital "vivicam" - viewing what she chose to capture. (Yes, the ones of me on the phone were a bit eye opening). It made me thankful that she was being exposed to Christian adults - who treasured both her and their faith. But mostly it made me keenly aware that she was real - a little person observing, listening, and absorbing the life around her.

I remember worrying so much about the type of foods I was eating when I was nursing Isabelle. I wanted so desperately to give her the highest quality of nutrition possible. How much more important are my words, my responses, my attitude towards her - and to her dad. Yikes.

During her speech, Molly passed out a copy of a prayer. It's called simply, "Parents Prayer" and it made me cry when I read it. It made me realize how many times I have confused impatience and irritation with discipline.

"Oh Heavenly Father, make me a better parent," the prayer begins. "Teach me to understand my children, to listen patiently to what they have to say, and to answer all their questions kindly. Keep me from interrupting them or contradicting them. Make me as courteous to them as I would have them be to me...Reduce, I pray, the meanness in me. And when I'm out of sorts, help me, O Lord, to hold my tongue. May I ever be mindful that my children are children and I should not expect from them the judgment of adults..."

Oh my precious little Isabelle, forgive me! I hope that as I parent you, I can learn to look a bit more though your eyes - instead of always pushing my own mom agenda. Oh - and thank you for giving me permission to use your photos on my blog! You're one amazing little girl.