Spaces We Get Stronger

I remember the time before.

I walked, hurriedly to the massive concrete place.

It was early morning, my face was taut from determination, my eyes were worn from the hours of awake, waiting, watching.

How could I be expected to find it, I realize now, many years later. It was a hard day.

I’m no longer that hard on myself.

I walked, already lost and entered every lane. I chose different levels. White, black, grey, red tail lights barely standing out in the black place filled with cars. Occasional glints of shiny color distracting my search, the sun coming up and in gradually.

I had a full meltdown.

The patient waiting without me at the corner of the hospital, the nurse maybe wondering what happened to her mama and my girl most likely sure her mama must be lost.

I lost my car. I stood with the truth of my disaster and accepted what I knew must be true. It’s not here, somehow, someone has taken it.

My daughter waiting, I believe realized I’d “lost it this time” and we’d not discuss it at all.

Same as there’d be no need or time to talk of “what if, what next, what now or why?”

A hospitalization after a procedure that was not a success and she, we go from exam table in pretty Dr.’s room to hospital bed to spend New Year’s Eve.

We were released and my mind, emotionally overloaded could not remember the space among hundreds of cars from two days before on the morning we got to go home.

The morning the sunrise came in through the openings in the hard place up high, I came to terms with what I might not be able to fix or find.

I found it eventually and made it down to load my girl in the car, her almost adult frame and baby face, understanding how I’d fallen apart and stayed away so long, struggling a real struggle in the parking garage while she waited in a wheelchair below.

She loved me anyway. Didn’t say so then but does everyday now.

So, this time I wasn’t gonna lose my mind and my car. Fatigued for a different reason, sleep deprived and uncertain of how I might be.

We were early, but had to park on the very top, the place that feels oddly special with open sky above, a slightly risky feeling.

I opened the door, grabbed my purse and prepared to walk with my boy into the place he’d be flying away for three months.

Stopped for a second, he slightly ahead on his way. I looked down at the marking on the space. “L” it said, okay I told myself, “L like Lisa, I’m good.”

Then, just to be certain, uncertain of my state upon coming back alone, I quickly got my phone from the pocket of my bag and I took a picture of the place I’d be coming back to.

Because, I remembered and I’m not at all embarrassed now over losing my car before.

The mama mind is naturally consumed sometimes and directionally challenged because of the strong and hard pull of the heart. Times when the baby bird is in need of healing to be better at flying and times when the bird is learning to fly.

Surely, mama bird might struggle in her return to the nest.

I’m certain she does.

Perhaps, they mark it with a bright stem or string, wanting to be confident of where they left off.

And I wonder now, if ever, just for the sake of mama memory, if the mama bird flies back to rest a bit in the place she let them go.

Maybe just for the sake of remembering how strong she made their wings.

Tucking In, Tying Shoes and Waiting to be Mama

Old rocker, new porch

Old rocker, new place and season, my daughter and her husband’s home

I took the country roads. Trees slightly curving inward with the wind and marigold hue of leaves gently loosened to fall to the ground, then lifted by breeze towards blue.

They were on the playground when I arrived. Chattering little voices becoming new friends, they turned to notice me, and my daughter tells them, “This is my mama.”

Their faces turn, pause as if they’re wondering,  “My teacher has a mama?”

The first pair was a faded red.

The laces gray and soft from wear, I asked, “Do you want me to tie your shoes?”

He answered, “yes ma’am.” with a timid upturn of lip as I leaned to listen, and so I knelt to tie his shoes. Double knots, I remember we always did the double, sometimes triple. My son’s little legs, tanned by the Georgia sun, white crew socks and navy blue Keds, I saw him there.

I was visiting my daughter’s Pre-K class for the first time this year. I tied his shoes and he smiled, then another pair and another took their place in line, bent their sweet faces to watch me tie and each with a little pat on the tips of their toes, turned and ran off to play.

My daughter called them over,  her tone firm and loving, “Line up and go to the rug.”  Some lingered, some called out,  “Mrs. Brown…he!” and one had left his shoes under the monkey bars.

A tiny little girl, her long blonde hair hanging in her eyes, went and brought her classmate’s shoes to my daughter, helping Mrs. Brown. So, my daughter stopped and calmly responded, “Thank you, Sunni.”

I wanted to thank her too. Embrace her and gather up her feathery bangs into a clip, away from her face to show her pretty eyes.

I remembered my little Kindergartener getting so frustrated with her cutesy bows slipping from her silky hair, she chopped her bangs, off and told me “Mama, I told you I was tired of that mess in my eyes!” always resourceful, independent and resilient, my daughter.

Still is.

I waited until all of them had settled on the bright rug. I’d scanned the playground, seemed like more than eighteen children now. She introduced me again as her mama, “Miss Lisa” and said “I picked out a book for her to read, so get ready to listen.”

I watched as they all adjusted into “listening body” position which Mrs. Brown had taught them apparently and I took a seat on the stool next to a poster sized note from her to the children.

She’d written in fat neatly formed letters, “It’s a marvelous Monday!” followed by a list…”Today we will…love, Mrs. Brown.”

I read to them, their sweet little faces turned up towards mine and we all giggled together over the silly story. With a quick “the end” from me,  Mrs. Brown instructed the girls to get their mats. One of them, the day’s leader was told to turn off the lights and then the boys rose to follow.

All around me, boys and girls dispersed to cubbies and then appeared with mats and soft blankets. The room, soft with sounds of  gentle song,  my daughter looked towards a child and said “She needs to be tucked in, can you do it?”

I went over and met a little girl’s sweetly waiting gaze as she turned to her tummy. I unfolded her blanket, then tucked under its sides and bottom, rested my hand on her arm, and asked, “Is this good?” She nodded and I looked towards my daughter, thinking she must’ve  remembered I was good at tucking in real tight.  Must have known I’d like to tuck her in.

This time last year reading to preschoolers would have had me a melancholy mess!  My son was just beginning the most challenging year of his life for more reasons than I imagined. Daily talks, prayers, and responses to texts were heavier than I’d prepared for.

Planning my daughter’s wedding was a beautiful distraction; still a seesaw of joyous celebration and thoughts of how I’d be with empty nest. My son texted to tell me this week he’d passed his Physical Training test, a big deal. He added that this year is hard. I replied that I knew it would be hard, just a different hard and that he’s stronger now, and so am I.

Will be even stronger.

My daughter will have a cardiologist visit next week. I won’t be there, her husband will. I could go, told them I would… it’s up to her, her husband said.

Not this time. It’s okay, we’ll let you know.

I’ll wait to hear; wait to embrace.

Wait to be mama again.

I happened upon a story this morning about swans and I was drawn into the beauty of her words. Linking up with my most “captivating” story from last week. So,so trying to better at this “community” thing.

What Happens to the Cygnets of an Injured Swan?

Walking under Pink Sky filtered in the Gray

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Late summer days felt long last week.  I walked late in the evening, forcing myself to move, not sure I’d be better for it.  Two days with music and Colt, the humidity still as ugly and thick as sludge.  Returning home, up the curvy hill, feeling nothing more than well that’s done for today. Heavy, exhausted and thinking about way too much, my days ended that way early last week.

Then, on Thursday I walked alone.  It was even later than before and I was embraced so sweetly, feeling change in the air, a wispy cooler breeze.  My walk, more patterned, the sound of shoe firmly hitting pavement, tap the ground with toe, raise the heel, walk on Lisa, walk on.

I walked head up, glancing one side then the other encompassed by sky, cloud and treetop; I began to let go the piles of mental junk mail, recycling the good.

The sky is changing now with the season.  The blue is more azure, the clouds more shadowy gray and foreboding and just at the right time of day, a tapestry of a sweetly, subtle pink in contrasting texture.

And so, that evening I had space enough to ponder faithfulness, of God.20150902_200624-2

How every morning last week, the geese flew over our back yard when Colt and I were out. I’d stop to listen as they approached and say to myself “Here they come. ”  not in my voice, but my mama’s.  I was taken back to the dock and the  contentment of simple expectation fulfilled, of geese flying over a pond, a simple sameness, a faithfulness.

A gift every morning. God’s, the geese and mama’s gift to me.

I thought of how these last weeks, God kept me still and quiet and waiting.

Less adamant in my jumping ahead.

I sense God now, in this time of change, guiding me.

The things that troubled, somehow have become smaller, resolved or resolving.

I topped the hill on our curvy road and looked ahead, almost evening then.  I stopped and waited, hoping to prolong the view.  This view, a faithful sky, a sunset and the promise of a flock of geese in the morning.

Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens;
    your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. Psalm 36:5

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Because, God is faithful.

Because God believes in us even when we don’t believe in ourselves.

Sovereign over us…all around us.

Thank you Jennifer!

Thank you Jennifer!

When God Calls You to Do Something Crazy? Go Ahead and Do It. — #TellHisStory

content in my distraction

feather

There was a red bird outside my window this morning. I heard its chirping and stopped to listen. I pushed back from my desk, opened the shutters and stopped, captivated by its visit.  Bright, confident, vibrantly bouncing around in the straw.

My mind moves lately from one to another thing, the bane of the multitasking and distracted life.  It’s my current place in life, engaged daughter and youngest entering college.

Last night, planted next to the checkout at Target,  a friend and I shared wisdom over the need to rest, to look away from the current inundation of horrific.  We agreed that we’d be quite content to withdraw to our homes, to draw into and near to God.  We wondered if this might be the only sound place of solace. We agreed we should and we could do this.

Let’s just stay in our quiet place;  stay home, curl up on the couch, kneel down bedside.  Avoid the news, the media, the social sucking in of our minds via handheld places of informative anguish. We might withdraw, we decided.

But wait, there’s a birthday coming up tomorrow, her daughter and  “Lisa, you have your daughter’s wedding to plan, What fun!” she said.  Our conversation and our faces changed as we shifted to the good, to the peace bringing, soul touching, warm smile bringing happy things.

Glancing towards my desk this morning, ready to begin my list of to do’s.  I had committed in prayer to remain focused, to avoid distractions and to honor God in my work. I placed my yellow mug down next to my collection of peaceful things.  The things that make me smile, a reminder note to “be still” and a mug, both gifts from my daughter. A perfectly hollowed out bird nest cushioning baby bluebird feathers and I thought “this little vignette is my happy way of life”.   This is rest for my soul,  pretty and peaceful in the impending and overwhelming now. I’m hoping God has planted  a collection of joy on my friend’s path today and that she’s stopped to notice already.

My friend has had a hard year.  She is thin. She is tired.  Her eyes have an appearance of long, heavy nights. “It all caught up with me this year, Lisa.”  she said.  I asked, wondering  “Like the empty nest is so much more empty than you thought it would be?”

She agreed, nodding without words, her eyes becoming watery and I wondered if these words were hard or just hard truth.

Her son, same age as mine, should be headed to college.  He ended his life three years ago. I cherish the story of her son. I’ve heard it many times, no less difficult in the repetition. I am honored to be a listener of her cherished story.

I was there to shop for my son, entering college in three weeks. My dread of the coming Matriculation Day changed to an embracing of the gift now, of accomplishment and challenge.

I asked about her kind and quiet husband then,   “I saw the mission trip pictures.” I said, adding “the one with the child looking up at him, he seemed so serene”.  She smiled then and said her husband may have found peace in Africa.  His journey has made a turn. His path seems more peaceful, she said.   She turned a corner too, a hard road she saw him travel she’ll travel now, she hopes for not so long.

My sweet and wise cousin sent a photo the other day. She’d spent the day in Charleston and thought of sending a picture of the college campus soon to be my son’s home.  She thought of me, she said as she drove past the gated entrance.  She rethought the idea, suddenly though.  Later,  she says knew why. Her daily routine, out walking her dogs, a hot and dry day, eyes cast downward, she thought of me again and smiled.

Nestled in the brown, dry pine needles, crisp and crunchy leaves, she found a brilliant feather. She texted me: ” I saw this and thought of you. I love you.” I imagined her stopping to look, deciding which path to take and then pausing there, thinking this is for Lisa.

She texted: “Walking dogs , saw this pretty feather , thinking of you.”

Stand at the crossroads and look, ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, walk there, you’ll find rest for your soul. Jeremiah 6:16

I’m sharing my story in a link-up with other wise women who are most likely distracted, yet content.

http://jenniferdukeslee.com/tellhisstory-does-god-care-about-your-happiness/

Thank you Jennifer!

Thank you Jennifer!

Feelin’ melancholy, Sis?

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Something about Sunday had me wanting to go home.

To the country, a big white house, grandma’s house.

It was a sneaky kind of longing all around a breakfast choice, wishing for breakfast at my grandma’s…doors wide open to the wrap around the front screened-in porch.

I always loved the narrow little side porch, a good place to be tucked away.

Last Sunday morning, I found myself wanting what couldn’t be again.

That kind of floating around in your mind of all things changing.

The knowledge of not being able to be in that place, with those people again, not a cumbersome sadness dragging around all Eyoreish….

Just an almost sweet ache. I had written about the look on my son’s face at graduation, and my sister-in-law commented:

“Feeling melancholy, sis?” Dianne

And it stuck.  Why yes, I believe I am and by the way, Thank you for putting a name to my longing, my wistful thinking

Also,  thank you for calling me “sis”.

That made me smile in the simplest and sweetest of ways.

Melancholy feelings on a Sunday morning,

Wishing for, what back then I thought silly, odd old people ways.

I opened the refrigerator for milk, thinking I’ll have cereal and banana for a change.

Instead of protein boredom and sameness,  I immediately thought corn flakes in the big white, bright rooster box and I went for the closest we had in the cabinet.

Remembered the wilted,  golden floating, softened flakes… me, at Bama’s tipping the bowl to get every last drop of milk flavored with thick sweetness of cream.

I was thinking about my grandma’s sweet milk, tiny pancakes and coffee with cream from a can, poured into the saucer of a cup to cool so I could then sip along with her.

So, instead of two percent,  I grabbed the pint of light cream purchased earlier for something, can’t even recall.

I poured it over my flakes and bananas, its creaminess settling amongst the fruit and flakes, finding its way into the ridges of the flakes and sinkin’ into the bananas.

I tasted home, sweet country dirt road, playing  baseball with my cousins on the clay front yard home.

The sweetness of simple, of sparseness, of sameness…of small things that happened with spontaneity.

Again on Wednesday, I thought of Bama, my grandma.  I moved into my morning, the lingering melancholy of accepting change, difference, good and worthy transitions…blue, nonetheless.

Waking up feeling complacent, doubtful…needing to surrender but not really feeling hopeful or too thrilled with letting go…

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I journaled in the quiet marking my little notes to self. Remembering my grandma in the dim tiny light, her Bible in her lap. I made more notes on prayer.

Lately, God has called my heart and beckoned my attention towards prayer. That morning, empty house except a snuggled down beagle and lab puppy (like a toddler)  waiting beside the door, I sang in the shower;  free, confident and joyously affirming  “Tell it to Jesus”  Lisa.

Are you weary, are you heavy hearted?
Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus.
Are you grieving over joys departed?
Tell it to Jesus alone.

Refrain

Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus,
He is a friend that’s well known.
You’ve no other such a friend or brother,
Tell it to Jesus alone.

I’m linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee and am thankful for a chance to Tell My Story, His story. http://jenniferdukeslee.com/tellhisstory-the-first-step-to-authentic-friendship/

Are you here yet?

Everything started moving really quickly.  May felt like two days, not a month. Your birthday, on the 29th and I thought,   “Didn’t we just get done with Christmas and your first car and making the AllStar team with your buddies, all lined up, gangly legs swinging along the side of the pool?”

Seriously, wasn’t it just a little while ago that bedtime meant Spot stories and afternoons were Tellie Tubbies and Clifford the Big Red Dog?  I feel like it was just yesterday, on a Sunday just like today…warm outside, summer time waiting for us to get home from church…that you caught me off guard, stepping from our pew and down the aisle to open your heart and life to Jesus.  And I cried, not big showy tears, sweet soul-filled tears.

And it seems not so very long ago that you’d fall asleep in my bed.  Not long ago that I’d pick you up from daycare to find you usually on the playground. I’d walk towards the window after gathering your things and I’d watch for just a bit. Mamas do that.  Sometimes you’d be sitting in the sand and I’d smile because I knew your sharp little blue Keds and socks would need to be emptied first thing.

Sometimes, it seems I’d find you in thinking mode. You’ve always been my thinking child.  And I could see you watching the other little boys and girls, content to sit and gaze.  I can see so clearly your little elbows on your knees, your chin cupped in your little hands. Or sometimes running around, laughing as you toddled on cute, chubby little tan legs, blonde hair glistening from the sun.

But most of all, I saw you waiting, your face intently focused and your little mind’s clock anticipating my arrival,  waiting to hear my voice, your name…”Austin I’m here.”

Are you here yet?

Are you here yet?

And this is why I can’t take my eyes off this one shot.

My daughter, making allowances for my lack of discretion,  captured this gem.   I told her…”Catch him looking, he’s scaninng the room.  Hurry, get that shot!”

 My son, looking to see if I had arrived.  Waiting to see me there. On the day of his graduation, knowing I was there, but looking for me in the crowd. Until finally a barely noticeable, understated nod and just a hint of a reassured smile.

Because he had been waiting to know, I was there.

Be assured,  “Austin, I’m here.”

Answered Prayers and Tomorrows too Soon

Two big changes are coming all at once.

My daughter’s engaged to the boy, now a man, with the big truck with the Bible on the seat and the beautiful smile.

The future Mr. and Mrs. Benji Brown

The future Mr. and Mrs. Benji Brown

The one she woke me over 7 years ago to say. ” I’ve found him!”

And half asleep in the dark, I knew she was smiling.

I thought a long time that night of the sweet, determined confidence in her announcement.

And now, I see her tender smiling tears and I am joyously overwhelmed. To see her in love and preparing to wed, an answered prayer and blessing.

A year away but feeling like it’s tomorrow and tomorrow is feeling too soon.

Too soon for  happy, teary, joyful goodbyes

Goodbyes covered in prayers of blessing and “Don’t forget I love you’s”.

My tomorrows for now are spent intentionally reminding of love…mine and God’s and of being weepy at unexpected times in my day.

My daily text messages of scripture continues,  but my focus is intentional to show a more blessed me and a  joy-filled temperament…one that shows, not just speaks…one that lives out what I have spoken so long.

“You are a blessing to me”.

Still, the thought of a house without my daughter and my son moistens my eyes.

Weepiness is not really me.

But it is my heart and they are my heart, my soul.

So, in the meantime there are ways to move towards this time of the coming tomorrows.

Like standing in the center of their bedrooms after they’ve left for the day lingering in the quiet, yet noisy messiness  of their stuff.

Art and antiques on my daughter’s walls, bed made just so, heirlooms of her grandma’s, dried flowers from Benji, Bible, journals and massive amounts of clothing filling her closet.

Down the hall, sparse and organized, my son’s room,  a guitar and flags, hoodies, hats and an overabundance of shoes lined up in orderly fashion

College acceptance letters neatly stacked on the corner of his desk.  A lone blue folder, silver letters in marker “Citadel”.

Last week, I dropped him off for “Pre-Knob” overnight at The Citadel.

He turned the corner and walked alone under the canopy of oaks.

His posture was that of a man, broad shouldered, briskly walking towards his future.

I felt it.

I saw it in his steps,  a readiness to decide his future.

So,  I fell behind a distance and I  let him go.

 

Austin at Citadel, my sweet boy

Austin at The Citadel, strong and determined.

And I know…they have been taught along the way.

Teach your children to choose the right path, and when they are older,  they will remain upon it.  Proverbs 22:6

Before I forget what I realized

My heart

My heart

I realized a parenting truth last week.

Time has not been kind to my writing joy.

I must record this truth. I must remind myself of its clarity.

The only writing this past week has been penciled in thoughts about prayer, faith, rewriting and remembering.

Busy times, baseball season, lingering, annoying cold and cough.

So, my writing has been non-existent.

Last week, I scripted a prayer that came to me with ease.

My prayer, Lord, help me to know what to say and when to say it.

Give Heather and Austin the clarity they need and make yourself known to them daily, because I know you are there…in their hearts.

It occurred to me that being mama at this point is so much more about availability than ability.

So much more about staying back, yet being there when called upon.

More like waiting to be inquired of, being in tune with Quick to Listen, Slow to Speak way of love, of mothering.

Waiting to advise, to direct…so unmotherly.

Just to be there… waiting on sidelines, in background

And ready to answer with love.

Holding closely, loving wholeheartedly, pointing towards Jesus.

So, I must remember this parenting epiphany

I must record this knowledge to carry through the approaching moving away.

Be available as needed.

Only as needed.

They are able.

They have been trained.

Be there…love with availability, as needed, requested.

Train up a child in the way he should go…when they are old, they will not depart from it.  Proverbs 22:6