Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day

It was a special service. An emotional video of remembrance. A retired Air Force Colonel sharing his sentiments towards his fallen comrades followed by the playing of Taps. The mood was somber, humbling, honorable. The video alone had brought me to tears, so thankful for those who have served our country. But in the midst of the crowd, I couldn't help but notice a white haired gentleman rise to his feet as he wiped away tears. He stood at attention then put his hand over his heart. He was followed by another in the same motion. Still one more stood with arms raised to the sky then his stance turned to attention. I didn't know them or those they were remembering but it was emotional and moving and a reminder of those we should be honoring this weekend. The distinct way they stood at attention told me they were certain to have served. I wanted to know what they were thinking, who they may be remembering, what service they had given, what sacrifices they had endured. I wanted to know their stories. I wanted to honor them and their commitment to God and country. My heart swelled with gratitude and again I felt tears falling.

God shed His grace on thee, indeed. There's a sense of pride that fills my heart when I truly allow myself to reflect upon what it's taken to get here; to be able to declare I am proud to be an American. I can't - I won't - forget the ones who gave me that right. Land of the free, home of the brave. The valiant warriors who freely went, willingly gave and bravely shed their blood for our freedom, my freedom.

My thoughts turn to my Grandpa Dunbar and the stories he would tell of his and Grandma's time serving in World War II. He would watch D-Day specials on TV looking for a glimpse of his brother who had been lost at Normandy. He was a pilot, that much I knew. I had heard the stores but am ashamed to say I didn't pay better attention. We weren't a military family beyond their service but I am proud to be an American and have a deep respect for those who answer the call to serve, defend and protect. My right to write this blog was given by the blood, sweat and sacrifice of soldiers and patriots who have fought for these and other freedoms.

It can be a time of confusion. A presidential election year, battles over gender in the bathroom, Supreme Court decisions that have altered our way of thinking, living and believing. And for these freedoms these men and women continue to fight. Whether they believe in each and every one of the decisions being made, they still believe in the good of our nation, in the people who make up this country. The speaker yesterday said it best, explaining these service men and women sign a blank check, their oath, that their call to duty can be cashed in at any time, to any place, for any length of time. I don't know if I could be as selfless. You not only forfeited your right to yourself, you were willing to give everything for people you've never met. For me. So today I stop and say thanks because each and everyday you've never stopped considering us worth it.

Monday, May 23, 2016

It's Monday

It's Monday! It's the last full week of school. Just 8 days left and 3 of those are early dismissals plus field day, end of the year assemblies and celebrations... It's an exciting time of year and summer break is at the forefront of everyone's minds. I even dressed Violet in her brand new Minnie Mouse outfit in anticipation of just 31 days until our Florida vacation. I AM HAPPY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But it's Monday. Did I mention that? It's like the law of gravity or e=mc2. It seems when God created the world and set everything into motion that He must have divinely planned for Monday's to be the test of what we learned on Sunday. Am I right?! 

I woke up early. I woke up happy and refreshed. The baby slept through the night which meant I slept through the night. The coffee was preset and it would be ready by the time my feet hit the floor. That's enough reason to get me bounding out of bed. I'm now sitting here at high noon wondering what happened to the past 6 hours.

Picture the scene: My son's bed is unmade because in my effort to teach him responsibility he lacked the follow through this morning. His clothes are laying in the floor of the living room where he got dressed because, "There's not a dirty clothes basket down here so I can't put them away." In the rush of the morning I chose not to argue about this one but when I came back from the morning drop off, the clothes were missing. Had he in fact put them in the dirty clothes basket? The mystery would only later be solved... There's a pile of clothes, folded, alongside a stack of hangers covering our bed. I'm closet purging and only got mid-project before the baby ended her nap abruptly. For three solid hours I've been holding, bouncing, walking, rocking, nursing and soothing a very fussy baby. We'll chalk this up to what appears to be teething but bless her heart, she just won't let me put her down. So the clothes remain covering the bed but they have to go somewhere so we have a place to sleep tonight. I made my way downstairs to fix some lunch when I saw all the couch pillows knocked to the ground. It must be a game for the dog because he does it each and every day, several times a day, and always when I'm not looking. Oh, by the way, mystery now solved. I caught a glimpse of something red in the middle of the green grass. Yes, that would be my son's pajamas now strewn across the yard. Even as I was typing the fur baby came barreling in the house covered in black muck. We live in Virginia where the dirt is red so I don't even know where he's been. I admit I lost sight of him and forgot he was even outside given the state of the crying and gnashing of gums from the baby inside.

As I was making my lunch, I caught a glimpse of the coffee mug with a nearly full cup of now very cold and old coffee. I never got to finish it let alone savor it. I was so anticipating that java. it's just like the three unfinished projects I've started today while bouncing a baby and entertaining her with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (gasp!). Don't judge me. This is my Monday, my mess, my fussy baby and my blog. The thing about is I'm not even upset. This is real life. I had high hopes for today. I wanted to purge my entire closet, set things up to give away and sell. I planned to do the same to Violet's clothes and go through each of her drawers to remove the things that no longer fit. Yes, once again this little stinker has decided to grow and yet again I'm forced with the daunting task of clothes-swap. I have a full to-do list of work-related projects that I've only begun to look at, let alone tackle. And of course I had a new recipe I wanted to try for a home cooked meal. But here I sit, holding my now sleeping baby, perfecting the art of the one-handed typing and enjoying my little piece of peace in this present moment. 

Newsflash: I'm not going to be any less of a mom, wife or human if a bed goes unmade or clothes don't get put away. We won't be any less fed with takeout versus cuisine I make from scratch. This is my normal today and I'm finding the joy in it. I don't get to hold my baby while she's sleeping very much these days so I'm soaking in these snuggles. I don't usually have the time to sit and write so I'm relishing that as well. The radio and TV are off. There's a lawn mower in the distance and the chirp of birds outside but other than that, there's quiet. It's not usually quiet or calm in our house so I'm taking it all in and taking it all to heart. It's Monday. It could seem like just an ordinary day, one filled with problems and mishaps. But the sun came out and the sky is blue. I'm alive and breathing and determined to enjoy this day regardless of how many unfinished projects I start, or good intentions I don't fulfill. 

So have a good day. Better yet, make it a GREAT day. It is indeed up to you and what you choose for yourself and this day. 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Blessed Be His Name

It's coming up on Mother's Day. It used to be one of the most dreaded holidays I could ever experience. Now it's one of my favorites. Mother's Day weekend always falls around my son's birthday and it stands as an annual reminder of God's richest blessings and answers to prayer.

I've spent some time this morning making my list:
- Cupcakes for Eli's Birthday
- Card for Mother's Day
- Wrap gifts

Just a few of the preparations in a weekend full of party plans. You know how seriously I take celebrating and this is certainly a weekend that deserves celebration. But not just birthday parties and mother's day plans. No, this calls for a full and complete honoring of the faithfulness of God. The sentiment attached to these memorable days is fiercely tied to remembrance and gratitude woven together with tenderness. This is my proclamation that God is faithful, so faithful.

Sunday morning we will sing the familiar worship song "Blessed Be Your Name." It holds significant meaning for me because it was the same song I stood to sing more than 8 years ago after learning a birthmother had not chosen me. Oh how I prayed. PRAYED. I called out, cried out, claiming the baby boy she was carrying by name. I asked God to do this - I knew that He could - and I believed in faith that He would. She seemed so genuine in the interview and I thought we had made a connection. I was certain, just sure, she felt it too and somehow I sensed God answering this prayer. But I was wrong. I was not the mother she would choose for her baby boy and one cold day in February I would learn he was placed with another family. Just days later I would stand in church and sing the words through tears, "You give and take away, my heart will choose to say, Lord, Blessed be Your name."

I had to come face-to-face that day with the question of whether or not I would still choose to bless Him despite the emptiness my heart was facing. This Sunday I can stand and sing with full assurance of how much I not only believe it, but want to proclaim this truth:

Blessed be Your Name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your Name

You may still hold your doubts, it's easy for me to bless His name after receiving His blessings. But lest I need to offer clarification...I've experienced the promised land of plenty but oh how I have also wandered through the desert. It makes me all the more aware of how blessed I am. How one can truly offer praise through the pain, how sacrifice and suffering can bring about perseverance and gratitude. My road to motherhood alone brought me through infertility, failed adoption placements, successful adoption, miscarriage and a successful pregnancy. It's why there's so much meaning to this celebration-filled weekend. It's the reminder of the hope we have in Christ. Even when life is difficult, complicated, painful and downright broken, I can hold onto a good, loving and faithful God who carried me through every tear-filled painful step that led me to where I am today. And this is only my journey to motherhood! I won't even use this blog space to write about the daily trials through motherhood and parenting, let alone life, love and other experiences.

There may be pain in your offering but He turns our mourning into dancing. He gives and takes away but He never leaves us. Whether you're dreading this weekend or preparing your own heartfelt celebrations, I pray you'll know His goodness and hope. I pray, if nothing else, you can celebrate His faithfulness in your life with confidence that He is working it all out for your good. You may not be able to see it yet. Eight years later I'm still discovering and being reminding of this truth. Through every blessing He's poured out, and yes even in the emptiness and darkness, my heart will choose to bless His name.