I’m thankful for…

Day 21: I’m thankful for flowers. Beautiful ones of all kinds of shape and size, smelly and fragrance free, colorful and simplistic, and especially ones like these, that my Dad brought up when they came for Nellie’s birthday. I’m cheap when it comes to “disposable” items like flowers, but truthfully, they’re such a nice reminder that someone loves you and they certainly brighten the cold winter months.

2 dozen pink roses from my Dad for us girls.

Day 22: I’m thankful for Ada’s teacher this year. Ada loves school and I can’t help but think that this correlates somewhat directly to the woman who is in charge of her classroom. And after parent-teacher conferences, I’m even more sure that it’s Teacher Zeljka’s patient firmness that has helped her to hone in her impulsive sensitivity and to grow more and more into the little person that she is.

Day 23: I’m thankful that Thanksgiving, though not as awesome as it could have been, was still pretty darn good. I still was able to see some of my family, and even though I couldn’t make it out to lunch, Dylan still brought me back a plate loaded with stuffing. I had time off with my sickie girls, time to leisurely decorate and prepare for a birthday party, and time to celebrate Nellie’s 2nd year of birth. (Nellie actually turns two this coming week but Dylan will have to work that day 😦 so we celebrated early.) Thanksgiving is still, and will always be, my favorite holiday.

Day 24: I’m thankful that Dylan is a morning person who is willing to drag himself out of bed to get the girls’ started and allot me a couple more minutes of precious sleep wakeful rest.

Day 25: I’m thankful for home videos. I’m not sure that’s what they’re called anymore since most of ours are camera videos and uploaded to YouTube  but nonetheless, I’m thankful that I can look back through them and be reminded of what it was like then. And to be reminded that I am so, so, SO blessed.

Day 26: I’m thankful for Christmas decorations and Christmas music. There will be more about this tomorrow, but just know that the holiday season truly puts me in a festive mood.

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Lessons for a wanderer, part I

Last weekend was my first Sunday back at church.

I struggled. (To say the least) Struggled and struggled and struggled all week through whether or not I was going to attend. I opted out the weekend before and stayed at home with my family to heal together and paint the entire upstairs–which is in itself another story. The weekend prior to that we simply stayed at home. (I admit it, we are not nearly an admirable family of church-goers as of late.)

I struggled because it had been a long time since our last participation. I struggled because I didn’t want to be away from my children. I struggled because I didn’t want to see all those large, teetering and glowing pregnant women. I struggled because I didn’t want to sit alone (Dylan was working). I struggled with the thought that people would just look at me and wonder why I was gone/what was wrong with me/insert-your-paranoid-grief-filled-idea-here. I struggled because I didn’t want to sit behind/next to/anywhere near a sweet, soft, little baby.

Ada asked me that morning, “Mommy, are we going to church today? I miss my friends. And I need to bring my money to Jesus.” How’s a mother supposed to say “no” to that? Such an innocent question but so pointed to my hurting heart.

We went. I dropped the kids off. I whisked inside the sanctuary and sat down as far away from other people as possible, in a benign spot that did not feature any children or over-comforting women. I was late of course and worship was commencing around me.

I lost it. I was done. I started tearing up and willing myself to stop being ridiculous, to mask them, to push all my thoughts down. I fought with myself to stay there instead of running out of the sanctuary, away from the reminder of loss, from the power of God that felt so overwhelming. But I lost of course. I cried, I stayed, I listened to Pastor Paul’s message on The Compassionate Heart of Jesus, Compassion for the Wanderers. And I was touched and it was the first time in the last two weeks that I begun to feel like I could move through this. Maybe not yet past, but at least through.

Paul threw out the following challenge to the congregation: Have you received Christ as your personal Savior? Or have you wandered from Jesus’ love? Return to Him.

Uh…what? Were you inside my head this morning? Were you watching from some creepy telepathic angle that in my struggles, in my struggling to deal with our loss, I had begun to pull away from everything lovely and grieve alone, allowing myself to wallow?

I do want to take a moment to point out that grieving is a process that is different for everyone. My struggle is that when I grieve (and I try not to, but who doesn’t?), I begin to grieve selfishly. As in, my pain and my hurt dictates more decisions and words than it should ever be given reign. I guess that’s common with grief or so I’ve been told, but that’s not what I want for me or for my family. And Sunday I was given a check, reminded that I am not defined by loss, by emptiness.

I am defined by a Love that wants to comfort me, that wants to heal my wounds, but I have to let Him. I have to let him remind me in the pain and in the bittersweet moments who I am and who I’m meant to be. We just have to recognize that we’ve wandered away from the surest healer, I have to remember, and simply return.

JJ Heller speaks to my soul.

I don’t feel the need to write today, at least as of now. My friend, Kendra, wrote this beautiful post over on her blog today and through it she speaks the things I haven’t been able to say.