Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Joyful Parenting

I have truly enjoyed following Ann Voskamp at her website  There I have found two wonderful lists that are now printed out and posted at my desk ... with some photo embellishing of my own three angels to make it that much more personal for me. 

I hope you will find some of her words to hold onto and hide in your heart ... words, advice, encouragement that will make your journey in parenting that much more joyful.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Yes, God, I'm Listening

Below is an excerpt from the CaringBridge journal I keep for my sister, Amanda.  Amanda suffered a cardiac arrest on September 20, 2010 after an infection and other complications from her chemotherapy treatment for Hodgkin's Lymphoma.  She was in various stages of a coma for a long time and currently continues to recover from the brain damage suffered due to the lack of oxygen.  This was posted on the first day of my second trip to see her after the cardiac arrest.

Journal Entry for Thursday, November 11, 2010

My feet hit the Virginia soil (well, technically, I suppose it was tarmac, not soil) just before 9 am this morning. While I was on the plane, I asked God for a miracle. Something in my life or, better yet, something for Amanda.

Chris picked me up at the airport and before we had driven out to the street he was telling me that Amanda was trying to speak again. She was asking for "more ice"!

OK, God, I hear you.

Amanda wasn't in her room when I arrived but I could hear Mom talking from somewhere else and found them around the corner. It took a few seconds for it to register, but when Amanda figured out who was standing there, her arms went up and out and she leaned forward a bit in her chair like she wanted to jump up and hug me.

Yes, God, I'm listening.

We chatted with a volunteer for a bit (and gave her a piece of Croghan chocolate!) and then took a hot lap aorund the unit before heading back to the room. Amanda was pretty emotional for a bit and was trying to talk again. It took a while for me to decipher but now we know "I want to go home!"

Alrighty then!

Dr. Alecia stoppped to chat for a bit and then Bill from PT came by shortly after with Jenna. They sat her on the edge of her chair and started working with her. She's beginning to balance herself. She can lift and extend her legs out one at a time and lift each up. She can hold her left arm up over her head once she is helped to get it there, but the right arm is weaker. They lifted her to a standing position and said that they could tell she was bearing some of her own weight. She even tried to give me a high five.

OK ... I hear you.

Shortly after they left, Mom & I were getting her comfortable again in the chair and she kept trying to say something else. I thought I understood one of the words, but I wasn't sure. She repeated it. And then I was almost sure. I gave it a shot: "underwear"??? Yes. Underwear. Apparently she's a bit concerned that she is underdressed! And you can be sure that when she's well enough to read this, she's going to rip me into pieces for posting that!

Uh-huh ...

So then she's looking at the collage of photos on her wall. I can pick out the word "kids" and then "Travis". And then we determined that she wanted to talk to Travis. So she did. We gave him a call and she said "Hi Travis" and later on said "Carson" and "Greta" and "bye".

Granted, these words are all very slurred and it takes time and immense concentration to figure it out, but they are words none-the-less. I'm sure they will come quicker and easier in time.

And to end it for now, I'll tell you what I just told her that made her laugh a lot ... my mother just left for the cafeteria in her slippers! I'm willing to bet that she won't even think about it unless I say something to her ... which I won't ... until she reads this. She's pretty much on Cloud 9 because of all that Amanda has done today.

And so am I. Thank you, God.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

When I Grow Up

I'm 38 years old.  And I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.

While in high school I dabbled in babysitting, working in a fabric store and a flower shop, and lifeguarding at the local swimming hole.  I knew I'd never do any of that for the rest of my life, though being a lifeguard on Baywatch did seem to have it's perks.

The first career that I remember wishing for, when I was a little girl, was to be a teacher.  I think that's common for little girls when they enter school.  I had discovered some great teachers and often tried to emulate them while playing school with my best friend in her basement or my attic.

I remember, too, wanting to be come a marine biologist.  I think what I really dreamed of was to swim with the dolphins and pick up seashells on the shore and snorkle over a coral reef.  Nevermind all that research.  I just wanted to be near those graceful creatures and touch them and steal some of their magic and smile as they smiled, neverending, at me.

At one time, I even wanted to be a nurse.  Specifically, an ER nurse.  I would watch various "medical" shows on TV, like Trapper John MD and Quincy, and thought that would be a glamorous life.  All the excitement and yet helping those in their most needful hours.

I didn't do any of that.  I didn't even go to college.  Well, that's not entirely true.  My agenda when I was in my senior year of high school was to marry the boy I loved and be his wife and mother to his children.  That part came true.  And I still hold those titles today; and as battered as they are, they still bring me joy.

My parent's, on the other hand, wanted me to get some more education.  They never, ever pushed college onto me.  I don't even remember them suggesting it.  They did, however, request (demand) that I take a scholorship test for a year's tuition at a technical school.  I surrendered and did as they asked, so unwillingly.  And I won the scholarship.

I married 2 months after my high school graduation, moved 3 hours away, supported my husband as he finished his college career, and finished a 9 month program at the technical school.  I now held a medical Receptionist certificate and had no idea what to do with it.

My first "real" job was as a parts secretary in a corporation that produced big machines - machines that made other things.  It paid the bills, but I did not want to do that the rest of my life.  I left the job when we moved home 9 months later.

Next, I was an administrative assistant (aka secretary and receptionist) for our local Cooperative Extension office.  It was enjoyable, for the most part, but again, nothing I was over-the-top about.  Seven years and 2 children later, that came to an end and I became a stay-at-home mom.

After baby number three, the illness (and eventual death) of my grandmother, and a failed home business, I went back to work part-time.  I became the office manager of a funeral home and medical transportation office.

The medical transportation part was OK.  But the funeral home ... strange as it sounds ... that was were I could envision myself for the rest of my working days.  I was helping people.  Helping them make decisions and guiding them through one of the hardest times in their lives.  Some days were really, really hard - I'll never forget the day I helped a young mother choose a casket for her child.  But I felt like I made a difference, like what I was doing actually mattered to someone.

I eventually left that position for personal reasons.  I chose my family over the job I loved.  And in the end, it was the right decision.  Family will come first ... always.

Today I work in a physician's office.  I am a receptionist.  I'm finally holding the title that matches my certificate that I received nearly 20 years ago.  I enjoy the people I work with and the people I've come to know as our patients.  But I'm still restless.  I can't envision myself here until retirement, but I won't leave anytime soon.  Not without some intervention from God.

Which brings me here.  What do I really want to be when I grow up?  I still don't know.  Maybe I never will. 

I toy with the idea of working in a funeral home again.  I have no desire to go back to school to become a funeral director - that just would never happen with 3 children and a home to take care of.  But an assistant, even if it's just in the office?  I can do that.  I know that.  Truthfully, though, I can't picture ever touching this career again. 

I know have a desire to help people, sometimes I think young people, teenagers.  But I have no clear path, no plan.

But I think I'm finally beginning to understand who I want to be.  And this is probably so much more important that the "whats" in life.  No, it IS.

I've recently been following Ann Voskamp's blog, A Holy Experience, and God is touching me through her words, her photos, her joy.  I want to be that joyful wife and mother, the one that finds a blessing in every minute of her crazy day.  I want to count my gifts (One Thousand Gifts and more!) and let the gratitude flow and never cease.  I want to be comfort, a safe place, showing wisdom and mercy and grace.

I want to be "Ann" when I grow up.  No, that's not it at all.  I want to be like Him.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spring Has Sprung

There's a spring in my step today.  It's been so long.  I feel like the sunshine and warmth and promises of new growth has lightened my "winter load".  I have finally entered the long-awaited season of spring in my heart.

Spring ...
melting snow
cleared sidewalks
dripping sap
washing very dirty windows
laundry on the line
gentle breeze
jets overhead, too low, too loud
windowsill full of seeds sown, waiting to be born
birds singing
children playing in the yard
plants peeking from the ground
people walking by, coming out of their winter as well, perhaps?
anticipation of something new, something fresh,something exciting

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Beautiful Feet

"I can only imagine where these tiny feet will go in their lifetime. My only hope is that they never forget the way home."  ~ Candice G. (Kendallsmommie)

"Our feet tell a story of where we have been and hold the hopes and dreams of where we will go."     ~ L. Grace Lauer

"It’s a good thing to have all the props pulled out from under us occasionally. It gives us some sense of what is rock under our feet, and what is sand."  ~ Madeleine L’Engle

"Dear God, each morning when my child's feet touch the floor, may they take my child in your footsteps and lead them where you want them to go."  ~ Unknown