Archive | April 2014

Assumptions

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Photo courtesy of Bing Images

In many ways we all make assumptions as we carry on throughout the day.  We assume many things about the people around us as we go through life.    We assume that the beat up truck in front of us must be owned by a poor person.   Or we think to ourselves that the clerk at the checkout is rude and doesn’t like her job because she snapped at the customer in front .  The child in the grocery store is throwing a wild tantrum in aisle three and the mother does nothing.  She must be a terrible mother.

We have all been there, whether we voice these assumptions or not.

Some assumptions can sting a little, I have recently discovered.  It was a sunny day and finally I was able to take the little toddler I care for out for a morning stroll and window shopping.  We really were having a lovely time in the clothing department, checking out some clearance items and making animal noises of many cute animal t shirts.  I didn’t notice her at first, being so entranced by a kitty t-shirt priced at only $7.99.   The lady was also mesmerized, by the sweet boy I held in hand.  She eyed me, then gazed at the blue eyed charmer, then glanced back at me.  “Well hello”, she said.  My eager “hello” in return, must have given her permission to press me further in order to confirm her assumption.   Her gaze caught the eye of the busy boy at my feet, “Are you out for some shopping time with Grandma?”

In visiting an Early Years Centre with J,  I enjoy the romp and play of all the other “littles” as they embark on their first discoveries of playgroup.  I get to rub shoulders with Mom’s and their infants and toddlers.  It is a wonderful atmosphere.  It’s also a place where many assume that I was “Mommy” of this adorable toddler.  I  felt a secret feeling of being part of the “Mommy Clan”.   I now realize how ‘left’out I’d felt for 30 years.  I now belonged, even in omission of the truth.  Someone once said, “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” (author unknown)

As an early childhood educator, there is much I can contribute to a conversation regarding young children and enjoy doing so.  I didn’t see it coming this time.  Suddenly without warning I was asked the question that only other mothers ask mothers, “how long were you in labour?”  The room went from warm loving candour to the hot rushing heat of embarrassment.  “Actually I’m the Nanny, little J is my work.  We were never able to have children.”  The conversation stilled into a too long pause and calmly shifted to the unimportant facts and details of life reserved for those outside the club.   “What strange weather, we are having…”  I was no longer part of them.

That beat up truck in the lane in front of you.  It was purchased by an affluent mechanic, with a set determination to fix it for his next door neighbor, a single mother who walks across town to get to her hotel cleaning job after the kids get picked up from school.  It is to be a surprise gift after it is cleaned and repaired.

That clerk at the checkout who snapped at a customer, just discovered this morning that her husband was having an affair.  She just couldn’t take one more moment to hide her broken heart.

That mother of the child throwing a tantrum?  She is not a bad mother, she has just buried her husband of seven years due to a car accident and she is still numb.  It’s only been a month.

So, those that love children are not all Mommies.  A simple solution for inquiring minds is to merely ask, “How are you connected to this beautiful child?”  It is the type of question anyone can answer without any awkward moments or incorrect supposition.  Or so I assume…

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The Empty Nest

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Photo courtesy of Bing images.

The paint on the bedroom wall is faded to a tired blue.  A tiny shelf with a wooden helicopter and worn copy of ‘Goodnight Moon’ sits alone.  A faded copy of a well loved tale fingered eagerly by other children.  The matching desk and chest of drawers wait…empty.  The tapestry of a smiling bear hangs above a bed once full of the imaginings of little fingers and toes curled beneath the blue blanket once owned by a “wanna be” father, my husband.

I do not come in this room very much.  The sound of the ticking clock on the nightstand, mock the unheard cry in my own heart are too much to bear some days.  The sounds of time spent waiting.

Another day is ending… hope survived one more set of hours and concluded that rest is required in order to begin again.  I rush to the place of slumber until morning where unhurried thoughts find their way into the quiet of my time alone in the early morning hours, here in my empty nest.

“Oh My precious one, I think of you and it makes My heart glad.  I am your God and I am happy to overflow My love for you in a tangible way, even as you feel hope ebbing.  My Spirit kisses you with gentle peace, the warmth of My heart of love for you, and then I sing.  I sing sweet songs of kindness to restore your soul, and give you rest.  Never doubt My deep love for you.  It is with loving hands that I have formed you and hold you now.  Come sing with me… others are waiting to hear your song.”

“Sing O barren, you who have not borne!  Break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not labored with child!  For more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married woman, says the Lord”  Isaiah 54:1

 

 

 

 

 

Woman, Here is Your Son…

Years ago I sat in the chapel of a small funeral home bidding goodbye to a small child we’d all never met.  My best friend had in a very short time both conceived and miscarried her daughter, “Grace”.    I watched my friend go through the motions of the funeral and my heart broke for her grief.

On this Easter morning we think about Mary, the Mother of Jesus.  When Jesus was an infant, it was spoken that “a sword will pierce your own soul”.  Mary pondered these things in her heart even as she was thrilled in the joy of her miracle Child.  She didn’t know it at that moment that less than 33 years later she would endure grief beyond measure at the death of her Son.  It’s easy to forget that she understands the grief of a Mother that miscarries or buries a child early because of stillbirth or SIDS.

Jesus didn’t forget.  Even as life ebbed from his own body, Jesus thoughts were for her.    Let’s listen in.  “Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Woman, he is your son,”  And he said to this disciple, “She is your mother.”  And from then on this disciple took her into his home.”  John 19: 25 -28

What a beautiful picture of adoption.  Jesus made sure His own mother was taken care of.  In your deepest moments of the darkest hour.  Jesus is thinking of you.  Jesus is caring for you.

Can you imagine the thrill of seeing Jesus on that early Sunday morning, while it was still dark.  Mary would have been part of the grieving group  when the news came.  “He is alive!”  She was inevitably part of the group when Jesus appeared to all His disciples that first day of the week.  What Joy!

There is a day coming my friend, where we will see those we have loved and lost and will forever be reunited with them in the presence of God.  Jesus has got your baby… You will see your little one again and will experience the joy of that Easter morning when we can rejoice together.

Jesus and baby

 

Photo courtesy of Bing Free Images

Happy Easter everyone!

The Queen of Trying Hard

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Photo courtesy of Bing Free Images

It is a beautiful spring day as I sit here gazing out on the landscape molded to fit the trees reaching high into the sky,  limbs outstretched.  The sun is just setting after glowing yellow from an almost cloudless blue, into the most dazzling goldenrod hue.  The scene below my balcony is a perfectly arranged grassy field edging a small trickling river almost free from the frozen state of winter, lapping against the small traces of snow on the bank.  Birds chirp, a squirrel scampers even in the stillness and quiet at the settling of a day.  Every piece of creation speaks the artistry of our amazing God.

Our creative God, able to produce the most beautiful in nature stands in stark contrast to my own inability to create one small being.  One small achievement for women has become something impossible for me.  At times this thought saddens me to the deepest place in me and I wonder about this broken body.

I am the queen of “trying hard”.  During the first years of our marriage, I had the hope that somehow if I ‘tried hard enough’ I would find the key to unlock this healing I craved, and was so desperate to achieve.  I looked for solutions behind many book covers, changed my diet, charted temperatures, supplements, and even medication to bring about the wonderful marvel of pregnancy.

I added prayer to my “trying hard” regime, armed with bible verses and books on receiving my miracle, prayed, asked, commanded, trying with all my desperation to bend the hand of God, to my way.  In my own error I thought that if I proceeded with all the things that worked for others, and did them all perfectly well, God would have to answer my prayers.  If I did it all, THEN God would owe me a baby.

Each month, a tiny single blue line screamed that it didn’t work.

The day arrived when with a hopeful heart I sat in the office of my reproductive physician after undergoing many tests.  My husband and I were hopeful that through modern medicine we could become pregnant through in vitro fertilization, or IVF.  In this process several eggs are harvested and united with male sperm, outside of the body.  This forced introduction is kind of like speed dating at a dinner party only in this case the guys get to pick.  This appointment was to determine my eligibility.

I should have guessed something thing was wrong when my physician brought in a student psychologist to observe and assist in the appointment.  The Doctor’s gentle deliverance of the news matched the gentle comfort of her assistant, “we’re sorry, no”.  Due to complications of attempting pregnancy in my forties, health risk and a small percentage of success outweighing the incredible cost for each attempt, it was decided that I didn’t qualify.  I couldn’t speak.  A Tsunami of hot tears claimed me.  I remember that accusing voice, “you’ve failed, you’ve failed, you’ve failed.”  After several moments I was being ushered into a side room to gather myself before exiting the building.  I would never go back.

Yet, I hadn’t failed.  These pursuits were attempts to do whatever I could to achieve a goal.  Each time, I got back up and tried again.  My knocking on the door of heaven was not in vain.  God was there.  He heard every cry and bottled every tear and whispered, “Come to Me…”  Somewhere between trying to use a ‘system’ I forgot that God works through faith and faith works by love and love is at the heart of true relationship with Jesus.  In this process Jesus found me and I have begun to trust, not in a system, but trust in my Heavenly Father, who has created all things, and reminds me of that with each sunset.

In the beginning … empty hands, aching heart.

Woman Kissing the Top of a Baby's Head (3-6 Months)

 

Photo courtesy of Bing Free Images

It was my heart’s greatest wish.  My first baby doll arrived at my fifth Christmas morning.  She wore a pink frilly dress, soft white socks and tiny plastic shoes.  Her arrival was complete with a blue and white pram.  As I peeked under the tree at this small wonder, I let out a squeal and my heart was lit!  I would hold my baby girl and smile.  To me she was real, tangible and in my own world a fulfilled longing of a Christmas wish.

Years later I would find the news devastating.  An existing condition at birth would keep me from holding my own child.  If hope deferred makes the heart sick, (Proverbs 13:12), then hope dashed makes the heart break.

Oh how my heart ached for the fulfillment of a perceived or owed promise.  Doesn’t God owe me?  Isn’t it normal to want what others so easily achieve?  These empty hands were meant to be filled weren’t they?  My arms ached to hold a little one, safely resting and trusting me to care for her every need, confident that she would not be dropped, hurt or frightened.  Is there any other place where this trust is so expressed than in the face of a sleeping child in her mother’s arms?   Her heart is at peace, as mine is aching for the gift given to every mother.  Desire is imbedded in hope.

Then I think: How much God must long for me and how must His arms ache to hold me, His ‘little one’, safely resting and trusting Him to care for my every need, confident that I would not be dropped, or hurt or frightened.

“My Child, I know your longings.  I know the ache; I have My hand pressed calmly on your heart.  These longings I have placed there are a deposit from Me.  For without those longings, you would lose faith for what I have planned for you.  You wouldn’t wage war with time, seeking the result of your faith without the strong desire to see its fulfillment.  Peace child, peace my daughter, you’ll see My plan clearly. I am with you on this journey”

My face reflects His peace… and hope reflects desire.  I am discovering that desires are not evil; they are part of the process of knowing God.   Without the desire for something more, one would never take the leap from desire to hope to trust.    Desire is what frames hope, and faith gives it a tangible, “I can almost hold her” type of substance.  Desire is always looking for another way to kick-start- hope when hope fades, or is lost.   For me resolution is becoming more of just knowing I’m on the right path and to know it’s going to be okay… though I may not hold my own baby daughter I will thrill the day I can join hands with our own adopted child.

 

Allow me to introduce myself….

Allow me to introduce myself....

My name is Paula… Childlessness was never my plan, but it has been my journey. My invitation to you… grab a coffee, come sit a while, read a bit. For you who know this road, I trust you will find encouragement and a place where you will know you are not alone.