This probably isn’t the best time to write you a letter. Christmas is creeping up next week, and in my own personal tradition, I still haven’t baked a cookie or wrapped a single present. I wouldn’t say that I love the last minute, but I certainly seem to always find myself here, wishing I would have done more to leave less on my plate this last week of advent. I suppose I’m writing this today because of what has happened in our country over the last week. Luckily you have no idea what has occurred. At the age of 2, you wouldn’t know the difference between a mass shooting in a school room half a country away, and the celebration of Arbor Day. And because of that Judah, I am incredibly jealous.
I wish this week I hadn’t watched the truth of this devastation unfold. I have felt scared and so desperately empathetic to the parents who dropped their babies off on Friday morning. But most of all, I have been faced with the reality yet again of the fragility of our life here together. A split second. An unimaginable decision from someone we don’t even know. A seemingly normal day… and suddenly we are left wondering, ‘did I do enough to make sure he knew he was loved today?’
But let’s forget about that for a second. Let’s talk instead about sovereignty. Let’s talk about the questions that have been raised regarding human nature. Let’s talk about how a country has come together to talk about grace and giving and the ability to lift each other up. Let’s talk about how we’ve all in some regard, taken responsibility for our neglect in loving well enough… The kind of love that moves mountains by being kind and regarding each other as valuable, even when it doesn’t make sense.
Buddy, this week has been very emotional for us all. So many tears have been shed. But through it, we have found ways to be giving and soft and accountable for our words and actions. Perhaps it’s good that it happened so close to Christmas. It’s this time of year that so many of us remember what it means to be without, and others remember what it means to go without for the sake of their brother or sister. It’s this time of year that our family means the most and our hearts are anticipating the arrival of love and memories are made. But more than any of that… it’s the time of year when we are reminded that our love is so lacking without the love of a God who would send His son to this earth to rescue us from so much evil.
Please hear me when I tell you that in the middle of this tragedy, in the middle of pain and suffering and unimaginable sadness, our God is so great. God saw this day before the earth rotated around the sun. It was because of this hurt we all feel today that He gave us His Son to heal and restore. He knew that by giving us flesh and self-serving hearts, we would cause pain to one another. But we are not without hope my dear son.
I’m 100% certain that if you live to be as old as me, you will see your share of what I have seen this week. The ugly and the lovely. The broken and the whole. The pain and the glory. And eventually, you’ll come to a fork in the road that causes you either become cynical and helpless or reverent and hopeful. Only you can control the eyes in which you see these things. Only you can choose which road you walk down. Pray for help Judah. We’ve been promised great things by a great God. He will help you understand His sovereignty. And through that… you’ll see hope.
Today I was reminded of the scripture Romans 15:13, where Paul writes “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing”
Hope and joy don’t come naturally to this world Judah. They are bi-products of belief in God. Don’t walk faithlessly alone in this desert as you see others do. It’s not always easy to put your belief and faith in the hands of something so many consider to be folly. But the result is joy, peace, understanding, kindness and every other thing your heart will long for from the world. But the world won’t give it to you. Only in the heart of God will you see those things.
Merry Christmas my dear child. This year and every year after, you will stand as the physical reminder of how God has so greatly blessed me on this earth. I pray you know the joy that lives in my heart today. I pray you know Him.
Your Sassy Momma
Happy birthday my love. Two years is quite an accomplishment. Especially when you consider all the hurdles you’ve had to overcome. Like walking and talking and using a fork. And all the while I’ve been standing over you trying to do it all for you, pretending I’m going to be able to willingly give you independence at any point in your young life. Yet, you always seem to find a way to keep me at just about an arms length away so that I am able to see how smart and funny and beautiful you are, and how little I’ve had to do with any of it.
Today I thought a lot about how different your childhood experience will be from mine. I remember playing outside from breakfast until dinner. I remember walking the railroad tracks every single day across town. I remember getting into insane amounts of mischief without ever having to answer to the parental convenience of cell phones or GPS or nanny cams. Since then, however, I have become very accustomed to control. Like for instance, I can send instant communication to whoever I want in a second, including the President of the United States. I can tell you the circumference of the earth without cracking a book. I can have food effortlessly delivered to my kitchen table in 15 minutes or less. I can get cancer tomorrow, and probably beat it. That’s how much control my generation has garnered. So yeah, it makes us cocky. It shocks us when we can’t fix or avoid life’s big problems. I truly believe it is the core of our mass anxiety problems. We’ve been programed to believe that control is within our reach, always. And maybe we have been blessed with conveniences that trick us into believing that. But in reality, we are left feeling emotionally stranded when that control ends up being but a vapor.
I dream of a simpler life for us. One where I don’t have to work. Where we could avoid the hurdle of you being sucked into societal norms of narcissism or materialism. Where you could experience an adventure and I could learn to let go of my need to create structure where there need not be any. It’s a work in progress. But just dreaming of it appears to be helping.
This week you and I went to the park by our little house. It was a really nice cool day but it had started to rain a little. The park was almost completely abandoned except for you and I… just two weirdos who can’t be scared by a little falling water. Towards the end you were starting to poop out on me. You got down on the ground and took off my sandals. We walked around a little, but every few minutes we’d stop to inspect a new leaf or ant pile or really rad long extra cool stick. Those are the moments I life for. They are the moments you force me to be down near the dirt again. Everything down there is so small. My legs have become so long, and my gate so wide, that I miss it all now. I am able to avoid all of those little inconveniences because I have bigger things to attend to. But your little things, like roly polys, that’s how life gets simple again. You take my sandals off and make me see how beautiful things are in your line of sight.
Judah, I hope you always see the little things. I mean, lets be real, if you are still trying to eat roly polys as an adult, we got problems. But if you can still love the simplicity of being small in a big world, your heart will thank you for it. Try so hard to avoid the anxiety of seeking control. There is no such thing. Prepare your heart for life, because life is best lived in adventure. And adventure isn’t truly adventure without a little danger.
I’ve dreamt my whole life about adventure. The places I could go, the people I could swoon, the money I could find. I had that scenario all wrong. I haven’t really seen anything or met anyone or earned anything so great as you. God had me dreaming of capers for 26 years, but nothing so great as the experience I have had being your momma. The millions of kisses and nightly talks in your rocking chair, they’ve surpassed it all. My hope wasn’t big enough to expect something like you.
Your aunt Kelli told me yesterday that God loves you more than I do. This morning while we drove to “yerk”, as you call it, we said our morning prayers and we thanked Him for that.
He still does Judah. You can be an adult reading this, and that truth will not have changed. His love is so great, so still and so real, it is ridiculous for me to attempt to control it. You are His. I pray every day that you know that. And if you don’t, maybe spend some time moving slower with a lower line of sight. See if the smaller things in this world don’t draw your heart to His.
I love you more every single day. And two years is a lot of days.
Your Sassy Momma
It’s just another normal Sunday afternoon around these parts.
To explain further, I work in marketing. I may manage my department, but that doesn’t leave me exempt from having to put on a mascot suit from time to time. And on these occasions, it’s not uncommon that the suit may make it home with me. And you should also know that this isn’t the first time Chris has put on my mascot suit.
This dates back to before we were married and I was in my first marketing department as an assistant. As you can see…even as I have worked my way up the ladder, not a lot has changed. I’m still getting sweaty in mascot suits and my significant other can’t help but take advantage of my mascot suit access.
Your Sassy Sista
I spent the first 6 days of our 7 day vacation last month trying to figure out why I couldn’t seem to unwind or relax. It took me those 6 days to realize that when vacationing with your baby, there is no mommy ‘off switch’ and relaxation may never come. Even when your feet are in the sand, your brain is still focused on the baby NOT getting swept away in the surf. Vacations are henceforth dedicated to the fine art of “creating memories” for the family. Gone are the days of mixed drinks and dark tans.
But on the last day we caught the best sunset.
The three of us sat together in the sand. Judah actually HATES the sand, so he sat in my lap with his head nuzzled in my shoulder. And I just kept thinking about a day 17 years from now when he obviously will be too big to fit on my beach chair. I won’t be able to lean into that nuzzle.
I mean, with a typical vacation, there are moments when you just want to memorize the feeling of being warm and seeing something beautiful and maybe even feeling beautiful. Because you know eventually Monday morning will find you and you will need to rely on that moment to nourish your overly abused patience. But there’s something totally different about experiencing those moments with your child.
Because even next year, if we take the same exact trip, and we see the same exact sunset… maybe he will want to be in his own beach chair.
Independence is creeping up at an alarming rate.
So I didn’t just try to memorize this moment. I am trying to recreate it every day. Even if it’s at 1 AM in his rocking chair. Instead of closing my eyes and trying to fake sleep, I keep them open, watch him watching me, and remember the aching feeling of 17 years from now. There is no beach or orange spectrum sky, but he is there.
Everything all those more seasoned mothers said about it all “going so fast” is true. I want to freeze us in time so that my back is always strong enough to pick him up, and his legs are too small to carry him too far away.
I’m just being overly sentimental because it’s Mother’s Day and I’m allowed. And also, he’s just very cute.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of those out there who have felt the “17 years from now” ache.
His Sassy Momma
2011 Sucked. There, was that prolific enough for you? I keep trying to talk myself out of it because it just feels like I should ONLY be focusing on the goodness of every day. But a broad spectrum, big picture look back on the year of 2011 has me sticking my thumb out, turning it down and making overt fart noises.
Wanna know why it sucked? I’ll tell you.
I was a horrible friend.
This year one of my best friends had a miscarriage. Having never experienced that specific trauma, I had no idea how to react. I let the weight of it sit on my heart for a few days. I sent her my condolences via email. I text her to see how she was doing. I even thought about sending a card and maybe some flowers. But I wasn’t sure how to react with the highest level of appropriateness. So instead I did nothing. Well actually, I did the bare minimum. I let her know I was sorry and then I left her alone to grieve in her own way. Months later, I brought it up again, almost casually. We talked about it a little and then she thanked me for asking about it. It seems I wasn’t the only one who had left her to her own grieving. Not even her husband knew how to tread that murky water. I had made a mistake, for which I will forever be sorry. I should have sent those flowers. I should have been there to see her. To just sit there with her. She lost her child. And I thought silence was the best medicine. Dumby dumb dumb.
In the Fall of last year we left our church. It is one of only two situations in my life that I was unceremoniously ripped away from some very important relationships in my life. Two times in 28 years…that ain’t bad. I call that a win actually. But in the aftermath I was left pretty exhausted from the lack of communication from some people that I loved very dearly. I didn’t get the response I expected, because I expected those friendships to continue without hesitation. And when they didn’t, I was obviously incredibly sad. But the few I did hear from expressed that they didn’t particularly know how to approach the situation and the temptation to do nothing was strong.
It is so strong isn’t it? I can think back now on all the times I did nothing. All the friends I didn’t follow into the depths of sadness because of the overwhelming fear that I wouldn’t have the perfect thing to say. When obviously they didn’t even want to hear the perfect thing. They just needed to know I loved them enough to be their friend. That’s why in wedding vows we have to remind each other that the relationship is bound through good and bad times. We don’t give each other a choice to do nothing.
But friends aren’t forever. Despite whatever Michael W. Smith has told you. We get a few years, more if we are lucky. Jobs and family and circumstance tend to move us around and separate us over time. But in the short amount of time we have, I wish we would take the role more seriously. I wish I would. Not only in the times that I’m feeling rejected and hurt by the loss of a friend.
I want to do better when I get the chance again. When God refills my friend supply, I want to do so much more than nothing. I know the pain of being the neglector, and also the pain of being the neglected.
Neither of them interest me any longer.
I love you dear friends. Enough to do much more than nothing.
Your sassy friend,
I didn’t make a single resolution this year. Not that anyone asked. In fact, I’ve been surprisingly shocked at the lack of people interested in my lack of resolution for 2012. I feel like every year I get put on the spot for weeks with people asking how I’ve vowed to make myself better in the coming year. And truthfully, had someone asked I probably would have made a few up. But since you didn’t ask, I’ll only relish in my personal laziness for the next 12 months.
Okay but if I had one goal going forward, I’d say it’s probably maturing my party skills.
That may sound strange, especially considering I don’t really get invited to many parties. But I’ve discovered that may be all wrapped up in the fact that I’ve never quite honed in on my could-be-amazing party skills. This point was made all too obvious when I attended my last (one and only) party of 2011. I was catching up on some irreverent, childlike conversation with my bestie Jen (whom I only see once a year if I’m lucky, but I talk to almost daily and if I could I would post all of our email exchanges here because they are a perfect and hilarious look into the lives of two women who both work, adore their families and also respect the occasional fart joke) when all of a sudden we noticed from our peripheral vision that another person was standing close enough to our two person huddle that they may actually be considered part of our conversation.
This is when things get weird and then later weirder. Because just as I am recalling an epic instance of hilarity from when Jen and I worked together so many years ago, this peripheral person hurriedly and randomly jumped in with an introduction. Followed quickly by what seemed a fast game of “getting to know you by asking strange and obscure questions that seem a little too personal for a complete peripheral stranger”.
After I felt this person was sufficiently caught up on too much of my life, I turned to Jen, clapped my hands in exultation and said “OMG I TOTALLY FORGOT TO TELL YOU!…..”. With only 5 more words into the story, Peripheral Person stepped right on in and ruined it all by pointing out that I wasn’t “LOOKING AT HER ENOUGH!!”. By now she was certainly involved enough in this conversation for me to give her at least 25% of my eye contact. Those were her words not mine. I don’t even know what most of those words mean.
So obviously, since I flunked out of every public speaking class I ever paid for, I immediately started darting my eyes all around in different directions at the start of every new word. Leaving no time for me to think through the use of inflection or emotion or even vowels. The story was ruined and by the time it was over, the entire room had cleared out for fear of a contagious brain fungus that had obviously taken me mentally hostage.
When driving home later that evening, I wondered to myself if I had found myself in an isolated event in which one random person had maybe crossed the line in proper party conversation. Or if perhaps she was right…and I just suck at parties.
Regardless of who is right, Peripheral Person has a point.
Going forward, I will now force myself into every possible, and even private conversation that I can. I will then immediately look for any small break in dialogue to introduce myself. And then politely take the opportunity to point out any and all flaws I can see in their interpersonal communication.
Suddenly my social calendar fills up and 2012 becomes my most fulfilled year eva.
I’m sassier than your momma,
A few weeks ago we hosted a lovely little dinner party. That’s right world, we have friends willing to dine with us, in our home, without bribe.
Shortly after the food was consumed and the conversation had begun to run dry (I never claimed to be an entertaining host), my husband decided he would liven the evening with a game of “would you rather”. For those of you who are not familiar with the wonderful world of “would you rather” it is a game wherein you are given a choice of two alternatives. Such as “would you rather have a face covered with warts or noxious poisonous breath?”.
Typically, these questions rarely stray much farther than the gross, the shallow, the shocking. But one question sparked an interesting conversation, one I haven’t stopped weighing.
“Would you rather be have a marriage full of passion or stability?”
I immediately shouted “STABILITY!” which garnered some expressive reaction from our guests. Of course, Chris looked at me and agreed by saying “I’m voting stability…no question”.
I should go back and explain the demographic of the room. Chris and myself, who have only been married for 3 years. One soon to be married couple. One dating couple. And one single dude.
All of the young un-marrieds and soon to be marrieds of course gaged and made comments like “I’d rather die than live a day without passion in my marriage”. Annnnnd immediately the guilt crept up.
What if my marriage is supposed to be passionate all the time and I’ve just lost that loving feeling??? What if these young loves know something that I don’t? That I’m slowly sucking the life out of myself, my husband and everyone in our home? What if they are all judging me??? What if this is the last time we ever see them????
And so I’ve thought about it a lot, and though I’m totally content with your gags, I have decided that I’m still right (what’s new, right?). And to further express my feeling, this week I came across this quote on a favorite blog:
Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being “in love” which any of us can convince ourselves we are.
Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.
Louis De Bernieres
I’m feeling good about saying I don’t have passion in my marriage 24 hours a day. Or, if I’m being honest, even 24 days in the year. What I have is something better. Something rarer. For what is lacking in passion is the strengthening of ourselves to each other…
And to that I say, let’s just keep digging roots.