Monday, November 29, 2010

It's the Little Things

So, here I am sitting at the kitchen table suffering with Alex doing double digit addition.  She almost threw a conniption fit about thirty seconds ago when she realized she had to do the back of the paper too.  I actually smiled when she did this because I felt peace.  I'm not saying that I feel good that my kid was going to throw a fit, but I'm glad she's just being her.
I am humbled by the hugs, words of encouragement, and love that so many have given us.  I went back to work today, and although it was tough, it was the best thing I could do.  Within twenty minutes, I was glad to be there.  I was thankful to have to tell a kid to pull his pants up.  I was humbled to receive hugs in the halls from colleagues.  I was quiet, but grateful for my job, my community, my friends, my students, and now I'm grateful for my whining daughter who may hate math as much as I do.
It was great to write emails, take attendance, read Eleven with my kiddos, and even great to grade late projects.  It feels good to move and to be useful.
Thank you to everyone for your love, prayers, and thoughtfulness.  I am sincerely humbled.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

I know what the caged bird feels, alas!
   When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
   When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals--
I know what the caged bird feels!

I know why the caged bird beats its wing
   Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;
For he must fly back to his perch and cling
When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;
   And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars
And they pulse again with a keener sting--
I know why he beats his wing!

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
   When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,--
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
   But a prayer that he sends from his heart's deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings--
I know why the caged bird sings!

Sometimes we suffer and feel pain; I can't think that there isn't a reason for it.  My heart feels like the caged bird's wings right now, but I know those scars are going to be a part of my being from here on out.  I'm reading a book called Little Bee at the moment.  It's about a Nigerian refugee girl, named Little Bee, who went through a great tragedy in her homeland and then spends two years in a refugee detention center in England.  Little Bee describes her point of view of scars as something beautiful.  How could we imagine that we aren't going to go through this time on earth without acquiring the scars that will make us beautiful in heaven one day?
We all have wounds and scars.  Some of us have spent a majority of our lives covering those wounds up so no one can see them.  I think when you do that, you don't allow the fresh air to heal it.  My wounds are pretty visible right now.  I don't want to pretend that my wings are all ok.  I think that with time they will heal and scar over, but it will be beautiful.
I am blessed.  I don't want to pretend or wallow that this isn't true.  I am surrounded with amazing people who will let me heal and help me fly.  I am uplifted by a God who uses all things to magnify Him, and I believe that the reflection of His light on our scars is part of His plan.  Perhaps it isn't in the greatness of our moments here on earth that truly reveal our purpose, but in the grieving times like these.  Perhaps it is when we see our tattered wings that we realize we can't do any of this on our own.  We must rely on the grace of God to heal us over and make us stronger so that once again we can soar with His majesty in a greater way.
I'm sure Paul Laurence Dunbar had many more things in mind when he wrote this beautiful poem, but I can't help but feel some sort of connection to it today.  The wounds are healing slowly.  My boy has flown free.  My scar will remind me of this, and I will see God reflected in every nuance of its shape.  Like some scars, I may even forget it's there from time to time, but I'm sure that those moments will come and I will haphazardly run a finger across it and once again, feel its grooves and picture on my skin.  Maybe by then I will even smile at its memory.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dearest Friends and Family,
I sincerely want to thank you so very much for all of your love and prayers.  There aren't enough words to express our heartbreak today.  Our baby boy went to be with Jesus.
Steve and I cannot think of why this happened.  I know that everyone who could have done something to help our little boy did all that they possibly could.  I am grateful that he was with loving people at Hannah's Hope, and I know that they are grieving too for him.
More than anything, I want to honor his little life and keep in my heart the memories of the joy and excitement he brought to us and so many people that we know.  I know God has a reason for all of this, although I don't know what it is right now.  I also know that God's plan is greater than our own, and I have to believe that.
Right now, I want to be grateful for the opportunity that I've had to celebrate him.  So many of you were a part of that and that joy was magnified in all of your prayers, love, and excitement.
It's obvious to me how fragile life is.  It's obvious to me that we can so easily take all of this for granted.  But although I want to say he was mine, he never was; he always belonged to God.  Now TJ is with Him, and he's dancing and singing.  One day, I will meet him and rejoice with him.
Thank You, Lord, for this chance of experiencing this, even it was only for a little while.  Thank You for his short life and the opportunity Steve, Alex, myself, and so many others had to love him here on Earth.  We know that You, God, are bigger than the right now; You are sovereign.  Thank You for surrounding us with such amazing people to comfort us and who have been praying for those near and far who touched his life here on Earth.  We are touched, deeply.  In Jesus' name I pray.  Amen.

I love him.

Yesterday was tough in our journey to bring home TJ.  We knew that getting a phone call like this was a possibility, but any mommy doesn't want to know that their baby is not feeling well.  Our little TJ had pneumonia this week and although he's doing much better, you can't help but feel helpless.  On top of that, we received updated pictures; TJ is experiencing eczema on his beautiful face which is causing discoloration on his cheeks.  I know they are taking amazing care of our little guy at Hannah's Hope, but I'm not there.  So, all Steve and I can do is pray.  I have never had to rely on God so much in all my life.
It brings me to tears to know that my beautiful boy is a world away, he's stuffed up and itchy, and here I am sitting "comfortably" in my home.  I can't tell you how much I want to hold him and do what I can to make him all better.
So, I'm getting on a plane in about ten days, but then the overwhelming feeling that I will not be able to bring him home then took hold.  I know God has a plan, and I know this is a part of it.  It's just not easy during moments like these.
The good news is that he's growing and gaining weight, and I am sincerely excited for that!
Please pray for our little boy.  We love him.  We want him to feel better.  I think that's all any mommy wants for their babies.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A November Morning

by Jeffrey Harrison

It's a gift, this cloudless November morning
warm enough for you to walk without a jacket
along your favorite path. The rhythmic shushing
of your feet through fallen leaves should be
enough to quiet the mind, so it surprises you
when you catch yourself telling off your boss
for a decade of accumulated injustices,
all the things you've never said circling inside you.

It's the rising wind that pulls you out of it,
and you look up to see a cloud of leaves
swirling in sunlight, flickering against the blue
and rising above the treetops, as if the whole day
were sighing, Let it go, let it go,
for this moment at least, let it all go

No, I didn't take a brisk walk this morning other than the one with my pajamas on with the dog in tow three houses down to get her to go to the bathroom (Charlie, the best dog ever, has gotten into the habit of rolling in the most disgusting poo when we let her outside.  Needless to say, she's had three baths this week and can't be trusted off a leash right now.).  I received this poem via email the other day, and it spoke to me on many literal and figurative levels.
The Craig Family is totally overjoyed as we prepare to bring home our little boy.  Also, fall is my favorite season; the crispness in the air refreshes me, the juxtaposition of the colors in the sky and on the ground are astounding, and we just finished the great birthday month (Steve, Alex, and I all have birthdays in October.).  So much to celebrate!  
But amidst all the joy and celebration, there have been trials.  Not everything has been easy.  Especially for me, who has a very inherent sense of justice, it doesn't sit comfortably in my core to let things lie when I see things that are not ok.  I can remember incidents from when I was a child, screaming in my brother's ear to be heard, even though his hearing was just fine, to fight for my right when he was beating the tar out of me or whatever...  I guess I have a fighter's spirit.
The hard part is when the person you confront doesn't agree with your sense of right and wrong; they don't share your values or ethics.  This is something that God is definitely bringing me through right now.  This conundrum has been the topic of many of my prayers lately.  So, what do ya do?
Well, for now, I look at my crazy daughter who hates to brush her hair, my husband who thinks I'm the funniest person he knows, that sweet picture of our little boy, and our cuddly dogs and realize that somehow it's going to be ok.  I'm especially thankful that God put me in a Bible Study to help me through times just like this.  I know He has me right where He wants me and that I'm going to come through this closer to Him.  I find myself grateful for this situation; weird, huh?  I am truly relying more on Him than I have in a very long time.  God and I are having more and more intimate conversations about an area in my life that I have probably been compartmentalizing for a very long time; it's obvious to me more than ever that He wants all areas of my life.  I feel walls that I've put up come crumbling down.  I find myself vulnerable.
But that's where Jesus meets us best I think, at that place where we finally give up what we can do and ask for His help.
This is where we say that we've had "Enough" of seeing this through our own eyes and ask for His perspective, His way, His guidance.
This is where I am on this cold November morning, and I'm grateful.  Thank You, Lord once again.  Your ways amaze me over and over and over again.