Tuesday, August 31, 2010

21

21 years ago today I gave birth to a little boy named Christopher Thomas.  Christopher never took a breath outside of my womb but I miss him just the same.  He lived and grew within me for 6 months.  Even though I was 16 and scared to death I loved him, was in love with him from early on.  Laughing when he first had the hiccups and then thinking he would become a kick-boxer or soccer player the way he moved all the time. 

Christopher would be 21 this year.  Had he been healthy and born on time I would likely still be in mourning today, wondering what he'd be like, if he went to college or had a special someone.  We planned to give him to a wonderful family who would love and take care of him better than a 16 year old girl and boyfriend who'd probably not last another year together, let alone be good parents.  He was never going to be mine.  But he's always been mine, he's always been near. 

I used to get glimpses of him as a 5 year old boy, dark hair, brown eyes and onry as the dickens.  Then a few years back while celebrating one of my friends' son's 15th birthday it hit me that he was the same age as Christopher would have been.  A skater boy, dark shaggy hair, deep brown eyes.  This Sunday on the way to church it hit me that Christopher would be 21 this year.  It's hard to imagine me with a 21 year old son.  Yet, it doesn't seem so scary now.  He'd be a young man, hopefully near finishing his college degree.  Philosophy?  Science?  Pre-med even?  Or maybe religious studies...like his mom.

This has been a hard birthday.  I've been a mess since Sunday.  Thankfully I have an especially wonderful husband and sister.  My sister, Amanda, drove 3 hours this morning to be with me.  She knew I was in pain.  Unfortunatley she knows my pain as she lost her first daughter just 6 weeks after she was born.  Today we cried we laughed.  We loved our dead children.

Yesterday was Merkin's birthday, today Christopher's, and Friday will be mine.  Most years aren't this rough.  The freshness of the pain ebbs and flows in no particular pattern or rhythm. 

Happy Birthday Christopher, I've always loved you and I always will.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Merkin's Birth-day--Happy Birthday Merkin!

Today is a wonderful and beautiful day, my Merkin's 15th birthday!  It's hard to believe that 15 years ago today she was born. 

I had been in labor for nearly 24 hours.  For the most part it was a pretty good 24 hours.  Phil (my father-in-law) still talks about it as the party room.  I was 23 and thrilled to meet my little girl.  My roommate Jenn and my best-friend Valerie took care of me the whole time.  We began with helium balloons and music playing, more friends and family dropping in to say hello. 

Joel (then a friend) dropped in to check on us.  He sat there reading the chart paper telling me when I was having a contraction and how big it was.  I laughed because in the birthing class they warned the dads not to get absorbed in the machines, "That's exactly what they said the dad's would do!"  It seemed hilarious at the time--if we had only known!

Of course, about 12 hours in the hours got longer and the pain began to kick in.  I tried to be good, to avoid the drugs.  Valerie helped me in and out of the whirpool.  She tried to help me breathe but Jenn had been the one to go through the birthing classes with me.  Valerie's breathing annoyed me but with Jenn all I had to do was look at her face and everything calmed down. 

Life is funny...15 years ago I never dreamt that I'd be married to Joel with 2 other wonderful girls, a pastor and living in a small Missouri town.  God is hilarious and I'm so thankful!

Friday, August 27, 2010

RevGal Friday 5: Dorm Life Edition

1) What was the hardest thing to leave behind when you went away to school for the first time?
The city.  I went from a large town/city (Colorado Springs) to a small rural town (Durango, CO) in the mountains.  For the most part I grew up in small rural towns but I had fallen in love with city life (don't laugh--the Springs was city-life to me!). 

My mom and I moved around a lot.  I went to 3 high schools in 4 years so there wasn't much to tie me down to any of them, nor the towns we had lived in.  I was excited and ready for college (so I thought). 

2) We live in the era of helicopter parents. How much fuss did your parents make when you first left home?
Not much.  It wasn't a big deal leaving home-- at the end of my junior year my mom moved to Colorado and left me in Manhattan, KS to complete the last few weeks/month of school.  Then my senior year she moved at semester to another town (she found some crazy old lady and her yappy little dog to live with and "watch over" me--not cool, not cool!).  So my momma left home before I did--twice!  No fuss there!

3) Share a favorite memory of living with schoolmates, whether in a dorm or other shared housing.

This was one of my favorite memories...KT, Megan, Katey (taking the photo), & I being total goofballs and doing the cliche girly thing--facials!  I think we danced around in our masks and everything.  We weren't sure if the mask cream was supposed to go on our lips or not.  Does that make Megan the smart one?

At finals Katey and I had a horrendous fight after watching New Jack City.  2 white girls in southwestern CO having an emotional knock-down over poverty, gangs, and racism.  Katey was from a wealthy family in Denver and let's just say I lived closer to the poverty line.  I ended up walking out and to Joel's apt. in my jammies, late at night, and with at least a foot of snow on the floor.  She called her dad, crying, saying that she was literally afraid that I might kill her.  It never occurred to me until I heard about that! 

The funny thing is that it was Katey's parents who helped me make it through college--they helped me pay for housing, bought me a car and kept it repaired, they adopted me and took me in.  Dave (her dad) grew up with a single mom (back when that wasn't ok at all) and wanted to help out because he knew how hard that road was.  Katey became one of my best friends and Merkin's "fairy god-mother."  Life is funny and wonderful.  Thank you Dave, I love and miss you!  Thank you Dave and Mary and Katey and Andy!

4) What absolute necessity of college life in your day would seem hilariously out-of-date now?
Word-processor!

5) What innovation of today do you wish had been part of your life in college?
Laptop computer of course!  Without internet--Facebook would have ruined my life! 

Bonus question for those whose college days feel like a long time ago: Share a rule or regulation that will seem funny now. Did you really follow it then?  I've never paid much attention to the rules.  ;)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Jesus Camp

As I type I'm watching the documentary, Jesus Camp, with my eldest daughter Merkin.  I am keenly aware that I live in the Bible Belt.  Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church is in our backyard and the folks of Jesus Camp are here as well.

I would love to watch a follow-up to Jesus Camp and see what those kids are doing now.  It was rather spooky for me as I attended a few camps that didn't look so very different.  The biggest difference I noted was that everyone at Jesus Camp spoke in tongues while only a few kids at the camps I attended did. 

Another difference is that the Jesus Camp kids were allowed to listen to Christian rock.  I still remember one of our pastors telling us "Those same drum beats in those Christian bands are the same drum beats of those pagans in Africa."  He told us that one of the African men he saved asked him why their native music was evil when those same drums and rhythms were in the music he listened to at the church.  When I got home that summer I took all of my records and tapes and through them in the trash--I wasn't going to listen to devil music anymore. 

My junior year of high school, a friend came back from his church camp ready to pitch all his music too.  I told him that I'd hold on to his tapes, because in a few months he'd wish he had them back.

Each time I came back from camp, I'd throw away music and books that I discovered were "of the devil."  I began to believe that I was the rocky ground which good seed was wasted--that it would begin to take root but soon the weeds and rocky soil would choke out the good plant growing and it'd go back to waste.

I came home and tried to save all my friends.  I remember praying with one of them that special 6 word prayer that I believed protected us from hell--"Jesus, please come into my heart."  I knew that if the words weren't just right (please forgive me if I've screwed them up here) it wouldn't work--Jesus wouldn't listen.

I remember tears rolling down my face knowing that I was a hypocrite and luke-warm--I was something God would rather spit out than keep in his mouth.  As we watched the kids on Jesus camp cry for forgiveness I knew that feeling.  Out of all of the movie it is that which drives me most crazy--the guilt and shame inflicted upon these kids.  Where is the love of Christ?  The love Christ has for us?

As we watched (it's now over), Merkin would shoot me a quizzical look.  Did I agree with what they were doing?  Saying?  More often than not I understood and I could agree with many of the words but I couldn't go along with the "spirit" presented.  There is something violent about it all, its teaming with anger and rage.  I certainly understand the passion, perhaps even some of the reasoning, and ideas but that undercurrent brimming with rage and getting flattened by platitudes is disturbing. 

Watching Ted Haggard talk with the young boy, I wondered if Ted was sizing the boy up not as a future pastor but as a plaything.  I want to know how those folks responded to Ted's scandal.  I don't think that was the hypocrisy they wanted the kids to admit.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Withdrawl

I've been struggling with depression for much of my summer.  I've withdrawn from blogging--reading and writing.  I've withdrawn from friends and the general pursuit of simply enjoying life and having fun.  I've been a less-than-stellar pastor (to say the least).  I've been an uber grumpy mother.  I've not been good.

I confess this here because I can't do so anywhere else.  While this blog is not private, it's also not well-read, so I'm not overly concerned.  Additionally,  I know that I'm not alone in struggling with depression.  I don't need to be ashamed.

So, today I promise, to and for myself, that I will call and make an appointment with a shrink--hopefully through my health insurance.  Something has got to change.  Today is the first step.

Monday, August 9, 2010

This is the day

This is the day.

This is the day that our life truly begins anew.  Each day offers ample opportunity for renewal, redemption, and rededication.  This is our family's day.

It's Monday morning and there is no crying as my girls wave their daddy off to work.  Instead, an early morning argument between mother and teenage daughter.  The house is now quiet with a sleeping spouse and sleeping daughters.  No early morning tears.  No early morning rush scuttlebutting Joel out the door and on the road.  No early morning Monday morose.

This is the day that the Lord has made and I will rejoice and be glad in it!

Monday, August 2, 2010

I write like James Joyce?

Over at Quantum Theology I followed this interesting link.  Supposedly, Margaret Atwood put her info in the application and found that she wrote like Stephen King.  After recently reading his book, On Writing, I'd find that more a compliment than previously thought. 


I write like
James Joyce
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

James Joyce is pretty high praise.  I didn't expect that at all.  I don't know what or how the application works.  An interesting little toy nonetheless.

more blogging than i thought

it appears that i will be able to do more blogging than i first thought.  there were some blips on my ekg that need to get further checked out before i'm cleared for surgery on friday.  no big whoop but the anethesiologist wants to be sure.

the good news is that i'll be able to use my right hand a while longer.

thank you for your support and prayers!
I've been a bad blogger. I've been pondering taking down the blog permenantly. I rarely post these days and haven't even been in the blogosphere much at all.

As someone told me last week that they wished I'd finally get my stuff together, it hit hard. I feel the same way. I want to have my stuff together. Some days it feels as though for the past two years all I've offered is excuses and apologies for not being on time, forgetting appointments, not making enough pastoral visits,not being in the office, having crappy sermons, etc. It's not just for the church either, it's friends and family. I've been a half-ass pastor and parent and wife and friend and sister.

I've avoided blogging and the blogosphere in hopes of not being distracted, of getting focused. But as I went to visit the RevGals for a final time, before closing my blog, i saw this picture:
 
I recognized my foot.  I also realized how this circle of friends has made my life and ministry better.  Blogging and the blogosphere has not merely been a distraction.  Blogging and the blogosphere have helped me to be a better pastor and mother.  Blogging and the blogosphere have encouraged me, supported me, and held me up when I felt the most alone.

Thank you blogosphere!  Thank you RevGals! 

I'm not giving up just yet.  I'm slotted for surgery on Friday--carpal tunnel release.  I'm ready for relief but I'm freaking out about surgery (and I won't even be put under!).  Even more than the surgery I'm wigging out about not using my right hand for the next 4 weeks.  Obviously I won't be blogging for a while as I can't imagine typing solo with my left hand.

Life is getting ready for another big upheaval--Joel is moving in with us full-time.  He's going to be a teacher's aid at the school in town.  We are thrilled but now that we have somone renting the house and Joel's last day will be Thursday, I'm having a difficult time.  I'm scared of our new reality.  We're going back to being broke after 2 years of being pretty flush. 

Life is changing fast.  For the good, don't get me wrong, it's wodnerful and I'm hopeful that with him being around I'll be more capable of getting my stuff together.  But change is hard...no matter what--good stress is still stress.

Thanks to all of the RevGals!  I'm checking out for a bit longer but I am grateful for your friendships and support.  Thank you!