Saturday, August 11, 2012

Broken Pieces

Several years ago I needed to find some beautiful vessels in which to plant flowers. Most of mine were cracked and broken, or I didn't like them. I ended up placing a wholesale order. Decisions are not my favorite thing in life, so choosing from a catalog (yes, it was before online catalogs were popular) was not an easy thing. Plus my love of pots, container gardening, and flowers can tend to make for agonizing decisions balancing between practicality and the pocketbook.

My treasures came one spring day. I remember Kira sitting in the stroller while I unpacked the pallet. One particular stack of pots was my favorite. I stashed one of the big ones aside, hoping to use it later in life. It was grey...a color I was sure we were going to utilize on our new house. A new gray pot would be fun to have; so I stuck it in the basement.

Fast forward several years. It is spring again and I am hunting for pots. Of course I am finding all the broken and cracked ones for me, and leaving all the nice ones at the inn. Moderately irritated and mostly exasperated I rummaged through the shed. Lots of different things went through my head. The thought of returning to our dirt yard and weeds was rather depressing. I want to beautify the world, namely my new house, and I need nice things with which to do it. We had moved several months earlier and I was badly missing the courtyard garden and surrounding flowerbeds, which I had worked so hard to keep up for eleven years. The trees were blooming and everything was coming to life. Soon the mockingbird would come back to mimic the children who had moved away, and now it could rear its family in a peaceful adult world. Alas, I don't like to live with mud, as is so often the case when one builds a house. "All good things take time" as my mother would say. I was determined to find a pot that was nice yet which I could take home.

Then something stirred in me. That pot. The grey one that I saved. Where was it? After some searching I found it, still wrapped with cardboard. Thrilled I put my treasure in the van and headed for my dirt yard. At least I would have a nice pot to look at all summer long! Home at my new home I carefully stowed it away from little people's antics until I would find the right plant for it.

I found the plant a week or two later. It spoke to me right from the shelf at my favorite greenhouse. I bought it and left it at the inn thinking the innkeeper would find a spot for it. Two weeks later it was still there without a permanent spot so I put it in my van. It was a pot full of big, green, gorgeous elephant ears. I love them. When it rains they gather up the drops in their huge leaves and dump them in the pot. They love to be in shade and wet. I had the perfect spot for them right outside my back door. In yes, you guessed it... the weeds. I didn't care. It was my stab at beauty among the ashes. My grab at gratefulness and determination for beauty among the mud and summer weeds that I knew would all too soon follow. If you would see it right now you would probably say why try? I didn't care. I was going to look at the pot and huge elephant ears all summer, not the weeds. In my imagination they were already up to six feet.

Planting was the best part. I left it for last because I knew it was going to make me happy. They matched, the pot and the elephant ears. It was Saturday night and time for bed when I finished. By the time I was finished my big pot and big elephant ears were too heavy for me to move. I would have to wait for Merlin to help me. He was away, so I came in and thought I would ask him after the children were in bed.

We have a garage at our new house. I am not used to garages. I grew up on a farm. Our garage was down by the barn, not attached to the house, and not with doors. We never even thought of putting things behind it, especially not flower pots. At the inn we didn't have a garage, just a parking lot. For some reason unknown to a woman I had put the flower pot behind our van outside the garage door. But it didn't really matter, right? Because I was going to ask Mr. Muscle to move it anyway.

Sunday mornings can be a little hectic around here. Apparently our children take after their parents well, especially this one, who likes to sleep. Things weren't going so well...and we lost some precious time. Plus the fact that it was Merlin's turn for devotions before Sunday School added to the drama. We are supposed to be there at 8:40 and it is now 8:45. After frantically brushing my teeth, stuffing Cheerios in my bag, and racing out the door to the garage, I plop in the van, breathless.

Merlin steps on the gas, maybe a little harder than usual, mostly a little late. Crunch. My heart fell into my stomach. My pot. My elephant ears. Merlin is thinking: "the van."  I jumped out, and yes - to my great dismay, my beautiful grey pot with huge elephant ears was smashed, along with the elephant ears. Smashed into quite a few pieces. I look at the pot...Merlin looks at the van, wondering "What was she thinking?" The van floor was dented. But my pot is crushed. I scooted it aside and picked up the pieces. Yeah, you might wonder how I moved it. I cried. My stab at beauty was gone. Now I am going to have to live with dirt, mud, and weeds all summer, and won't be able to look at my pot or elephant ears. Drab, drab...

Over the hours that followed I began to realize a message from God to me. I had been struggling immensely over a number of months with the whole thing about "Wounded Trust" coming out and exposing myself to the world. But even deeper than that was the fact of my journey of grief being on paper. So real, so un-erasable. The book was going to print, and I was tempted to send it to the Recycle Bin instead. The temptation to deny the reality of the loss of Kira still haunted me. I knew once I hold the book in my hand, I will not be able to turn back. Sure the blog is live, but could be erased if I wanted to do so. I could still delete by book file. But thousands of printed books? Nope. Set on paper for good. Really I am just hanging it out on the front lines.

My broken pot. My broken life. Shattered dreams. Harsh reality. Pain, grief, depression. Burial. CPR on your kid. Death. Goodbye to a little girl dearly loved. Caring for grieving children. Darkness. Satan's taunts. God's peace. God's grace. God's redemption. Redemption... Redemption. The words rang through me like strands of hope. Redemption. Can I really trust Him to take my dirty laundry and truly redeem it, making it useful? Redeem it enough that other people are drawn to God? Or want Him more? God's message to me was clear "Do you trust me put your broken life back together? You are going to have cracks, sorry. Your tears might wash out the dirt sometimes. I am sorry. You are going to look taped together, but I can promise you this: you will grow. Your leaves will gather raindrops to water the earth. Your roots might not stay in the broken pot, but that is okay because I am putting you back together. You need to TRUST Me." Ironically, the book title minus the Wounded part.

I didn't realize when I picked this title how much of an ongoing thing for me this would be. I picked it because grief mirrors a wound. It can appear negative to be wounded. It can also be comforting because wounds heal. But this God? I need to learn more? I finished the book, now I learned it, I argued.

Proverbs 3:5-6 reads "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths." This verse does not leave a whole lot of room for finding one's own way. TRUST and I (God) will direct.

Okay. I get it.

So I thought of ways to tape my pot back together. Merlin, ever the realist, said it won't work. If I would take the dirt out it would collapse the whole way so crazy glue was out. Besides it wouldn't hold all the dirt when I would put it back in. So I asked  Dad for some tape. He loaned his massive role of duct tape to me. I taped and taped and taped.

My elephant ears are thriving, yes among the dirt, mud, and weeds. But the dirt, mud, and weeds don't really bother me. The duct tape is grey too, about like my matches nicely. It is cracked and yes, the water probably comes out, but it doesn't matter. The roots are probably growing out by now, but who cares?

This I know: my broken pot is a symbol to me of the beauty of being dependent on the Heavenly Father. No, it is not easy to live in a taped vessel. But God does not promise life without pain. But He does promise to provide and care for us.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


When a family has more than one child, sometimes one may remind you of another. Often for some strange reason similarity tends to go every other one in families. In my own family four girls are sandwiched between two boys. Some people would always say I look like Evie, and Renita - two years older than me - looks like Edith. Edith and Evie are twins, but our similarities still managed to go every other one. Evie and I are also more similar in behavior and thinking patterns. Well, at least sometimes. I will not claim it the whole way because fact is that she is older and wiser than I.

In our family the every other one has held true so far. For days before the appearance of Brent I honestly thought things would never change. The oldest gal and the younger gal in this family look similar and both started talking around one year old. Talk has been happening non-stop since. I am so used to going uh-huh or saying "yes", "oh," or "wow!" Neither are really mischievous. They both like to read, play games, and do puzzles. They are both disobedient, but what kids aren't? Unlike their middle sister, they can both sit quietly and entertain themselves. The middle sister, on the other hand, was opposite of all the above. The interesting combination was for one to have the imagination and the other to have the energy to put it to full effect. Why read a book when you could be grabbing at it? Really, why sit still for anything? Why not terrorize Mom by repeatedly going back to the same plant and grabbing it? Why stay around when you could run off the minute Mom turns her back? Why come down the steps slowly when you could come down by sliding two times faster? Why stay in a boring house when you could be with Dad if you got your point across in time? Why talk if you were understood by grunts and squeals?

Needless to say, the boring times are over again. With the every other one in effect the boy in this family is clearly making his place known. If there is no room for him he pushes his way in. His brashness overwhelms me some days. Multitudes of things take me back in memory. Though I realize that today is the now in my reminds me of yesterday. It should be cute and occasionally it is. Other times it grabs me and hangs on. Normally likeness to a older sibling brings nice thoughts, memories, and everything is okay and life goes on. Likeness to an older sibling that is not here to look at brings me pain. Most of the time I smile thru my tears, and some days there are no tears. But it makes my heart beat faster. I wish they could feel the kinship that the other two have. Instead the boy is alone. Maybe no sibling will understand him.

This morning I watched as he walked to a mud puddle and sat down in it. Splashed thru it, kicking the water with his shoes. The other two would have carefully walked around it and maybe then thru it with boots on. Never sat down. He did, and didn't care about anything else. Only after he got cold did he care. He is like that. Just dive into anything and don't bother to think too much about the outcome. So much like the middle sister he will never know here. The brown eyes sparkle in the same way. They dance with glee when he dares me to try to help him understand why he should not pull on plants. They look longingly up at me when he wants to be picked up. It takes me back a few years. But no, today is now and I am living now. He is a boy, not a girl.

At suppertime the husband eats, and then is finished. He grew up in a family of four boys, so eating is what you do at the table. By the time he is finishing the last thing on his plate, the girls might be starting. Okay, stretched relative to some days, but other days real to life. The boy in the high chair beside him eats in the same fashion. Just stuff it in. Goodness, forget the spoon; that takes too much time. It takes me back. The other one was a girl but so much like her dad on this subject. How well we remember when she started showing up her sister at the table. Let's just say mealtime speeded up a few notches. But no, today is now and I am living now. He is a boy and not a girl. But it is the same manners. Likeness. It takes me back.

In utero this boy's mother was in emotional pain. I well remember the doctor explaining to me that this child will probably be a bit unique. I didn't know what that meant. I am learning. Strangely this child I carried while coming out of the stages of deep mourning does not know how to handle pain. Pain of any kind. I am learning to tread softly. Like the other day he slyly opened the office door and quietly took my sharpest material scissors out of my sewing drawer. Motherly instinct tells me to run after him-right? I do and take it from him and he goes cold turkey. Only a cup of water on the head brings him back. My mother heart races. My knees knock and the red blood in the veins turns blue too. My whole body screams code blue. I shake from from the hairs on the top of my head to the size eleven toe on the bottom. I just shake, because the likeness of this son going cold turkey reminds me of his middle sister totally limp and blue in my shaking arms. Same effect on me. Knees knocking. Adrenaline rushing. Mother heart pounding. Only this time my brain is normal. Oddly normal. Yes, it is upset and my mind is racing. But it doesn't dream the worst outcome. As for the knocking knees, they calm down again after several hours. The adrenaline comes back in two days instead of three weeks. Amazing...and I am grateful for feelings of wholeness through the ugly flashbacks it brings to my brain.

Some days the likeness taunts me. So oddly this son who brings to my remembrance his deceased sister. So odd this son who in utero obviously learned that pain is hard. So oddly this son who I carried while experiencing grief now spazzes over a scissors. This son who God gave to us as a reminder of mountaintops is teaching me things about myself and my knocking knees. He is calling me to teach him better pain management while I myself am learning more emotional pain management. I feel at a loss and realize that I do not know how to do this.

Frankly this last likeness he causes in my brain just brings me to nothing.

Nothing, empty and void of ideas or positive thoughts.

Empty and wrung out I stand before the cross again waiting.  Sometimes patiently and sometimes not so patiently for Jesus to fill me. I want to learn. Learn and grow to be more Christlike even if it is thru whatever life is bringing.

Any responses about what I just described may be sent to

A seasoned mother once told me that energy is not wrong in children. It is just a challenge to get it all channeled in the right direction. I believe the same applies to this. I do not desire to stuff my son's strong perception of pain, but I do desire to help him keep from turning blue.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Live Now

Embrace today, yesterday is gone, and tomorrow never comes.

Today the sun is shining. Today the daffodil on the porch is turning it's head to the sun. Today it smells like spring, the trees are budding, the birds are tweeting about it. Today my soul sings and desires to create beauty. The earth seems to command me into action by the sensations of spring. Today my children are covered with little pimples. Today I take pictures and try to convince them that tomorrow will bring healing dots.

I laugh knowing that tomorrow will never come, by then today will have arrived.

I laugh too because I have faith that I will never see these ugly pimples least not on them. These pimples are commonly known as chicken pox. But today is now and I am embracing today because it will never be back. But today is so full of so many things. Best of all, I am whole.

I know I am whole, for I remember yesterday. Yesterday to me is three years ago. I did not want spring. I did not want anything to grow, the birds to sing, or the flowers to burst. I did not want to go outside...the absence of my little girl's voice among the flowers and trees was too vivid. I would hear her hollering to her older sister only to realize it is all imagination. My heart, soul, and body were overwhelmed with embracing more territories that my little girl was supposed to live in. She was supposed to be there, yelling at her sister, riding her bike, digging in the dirt, taking off with my gardening tools. I would turn and see her coming out of the playhouse only to realize she is gone. Gone. The yesterday of three years ago was gone. I was living today and I hated it. I felt as if every time I would forget for a minute another memory would be stirred with something as simple as dirt in the back of her favorite toy. Spring was torturing me, eating my heart out. I wanted Kira to be there growing with the flowers. The cold reality of her body instead lying in a casket six feet underground made my stomach turn. Three years later I still grimace when I remember the horrible reality of these feelings.

Now they are yesterday. The horror is gone at least for a fraction of the days time. I live in the reality of today. No they are not pleasant memories but they are part of my life. Just as I embrace the good yesterdays...the traumatic yesterdays have also become a part of who I am and where I am going. This wound has had a softening effect on my heart.

Which hails me back to today. Yes, things that occurred today stirred my memory pot. The scar hurts as if someone has been scratching on it.

An older sister with pimpled remains of three weeks ago was singing gently to a younger sister with bright irritated pimples. The tones were turning softer and higher as the younger miserable sister drifted off to sleep. It caused remembrance of yesterday when another sister lay in the hospital with the older sister singing in angelic tones. My brain still remembers exactly where the form of my body stood behind my grief-laden daughter as I listened, tears coursing like streams of water down my dry cheeks.

Today I embraced the fact that the young son acts so much like his middle sister...the one smiling down from heaven. Embracing was not easy as the husband turned and said "just too much the same". I thanked God for the slight differences between boy and girl.

As for tomorrow; it will take care of itself.

Today I live.

Today I sing because He has set my spirit to live whole again!

Today brings praise to my lips for the mere reality of knowing the difference of whole versus incomplete, painful though it has been.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Chocolate Milk

Maybe the thought of the milk tank being full with cold refreshing pure milk, or the fact that the temperature was hitting 100, or possibly the thought of mowing that unending yard with a small mower, or following those fifty cows in from the woods, thru the tall summer grass, thru the creek, and around the pond that wore me out. Whatever drove me to the chocolate milk, the coolness and equalizing effect it had on my body and spirit was refreshing.

Years later and many moons after the chocolate milk I am married to a choc-o-nut husband. He likes chocolate milk.

This is a problem.

I avoid sugar, which includes Nesquik and all similar brands.

Fortunately, a company makes pure chocolate. Once again I am delighted to drink chocolate milk. For months my beloved took a cup-full in his lunch. His little girls slowly became addicted to the leftovers. The chocolate is thick so it needs to be mixed with the blender. I do this faithfully every morning. Slowly the leftover amounts gets larger. I must cut back on the milk I am adding. But the little girls are glad for the leftovers so in the fridge they go for lunch. Frothy and tantalizing, the brimming cups await consumption. It makes me smile, my children are drinking chocolate milk for lunch and otherwise.

The cups talk to me. They seem to invite me to drink of the frothy substance inside. But should I really do this?

Some days leftovers exist for me. I drink and I am fondly reminded of the reasons I drank chocolate milk as a child. The days seem to increase that there are leftovers available. Am I adding too much milk again? But that cup of chocolate milk in the fridge for me to claim to makes it so hard not to add the extra milk into the blender at seven in the morning.

Now the little girl needs it in her lunch too.  Sometimes I accidentally overfill her thermos and have to modify the quantity to seal the lid. At seven in the morning I am drinking chocolate milk. Insane. I am definitely overstepping my no sugar boundaries.

Today I am thinking lots of things, too many things. God keeps reminding me in His gentle voice to enjoy now, today. Tomorrow will take care of itself along with next week, next month, next year. Even when it is leap year He can take care of that too.

But this book is haunting me. Wounded Trust. Wounded, wounded. Is my trust growing back? If I really do trust Him fully then why do I even worry about next week, next month, next year.

Surely He has borne my griefs and carried my sorrows. He was wounded for my transgressions; He was bruised for my inqiuities. The chastisement needful to obtain peace and well being for me was upon Him, and with the stripes that wounded Jesus, I am healed and made whole. Isaiah 53:4-5

 Without Him there would be no way out my jumbled mess. This wound would fester and grow forever. But now, today the words for me are found in Isaiah. These beautiful words of promise of healing and growth to me, a redeemed Christian. Will this wound ever close up completely? Yes, I believe it will. The scar remains. Will it change...will the scar change and grow more like Jesus' scar? Yes, this verse commands me to believe it. My heart feel joyful because it contains the capacity to accept this promise from my heavenly Father.  I want this. Amazingly, my wounded and scarred heart has the capacity to want more, tempting me to claim the last part of the verse. It tantalizes me like the chocolate milk. I want to drink the smoothness and experience the comfort it offers...healed and made whole. Whole, yes I am drinking whole milk in case you wonder. But whole? Three years later do I even know what whole means?

I want wholeness. That is the first step. One needs to experience the desire first.

Meanwhile my empty chocolate milk cup sets on the table. The froth is still around the edges. The contents of this cup soothed my troubled heart.

Comfort food.

Comfort of knowing that Jesus took my stripes so that I can be made whole.