Tuesday, July 26, 2016

I Ripped My Pink Panther: When Your Kid's Attitude Calls For A Tickle and Talk Session


"Yeah, one day I'll be able to tell you all the issues I have with you, Mom." My daughter chuckles. "I can't tell you now because I have to live with you." She sinks into the couch, laughing herself silly.

"Get over here right now." I giggle, moving to the edge of my cushioned seat and pointing my finger to the hardwood floors in front of me. "Right now."

No movement from daughter. Just more giggles.

I jump up, run to her, and tickle her till she cries.

She gasps for breath, still chuckling. "I'm just pulling your leg," sputters out through more giggles.






Uh-huh. Oh, I know, Daughter. I know exactly what you mean. Because I felt those very things as a young girl. The only differenceunlike you, I voiced many of my thoughts aloud.

The whirlwind of my parents' divorce left me tied in knots, feeling pulled apart. One arm held by my daddy, the other held by my mother. My grandmother held firmly to my leg. I didn't know how to feel about everything or anything. I didn't know how to express myself. I didn't know what was normal, what was right. I felt crucified, tormented.

And there was my mama.

I didn't love everything about my life. I just wanted my mama and my daddy back under the same roof, tucking me in bed at night and reading nightly devotions to me. Bitterness, in the awful form of anger and what felt like hatred at times, welled up inside and drizzled out.

On life's fragile edge, I grabbed my Pink Panther stuffed animal that I'd gotten at Six Flags, that I adored. Taking its right arm in one hand, its left arm in my other hand, I pulled. Its little insides oozed out. So much misery. I injured the very thing I loved.

I felt so ripped to pieces. So I'll rip this to pieces.






I loved my daddy. But I was in this city, and he was in that city. I was in this house, and he was in that house. I lived with my mama, and she took the brunt of all my painful trying-to-figure-out-this-situation.

Sitting in my room, I mourned my hate-filled words to my mother. My heart mourned that I'd injured the very one I loved.  Because I loved my mama. I hated the situation. But I was only ten. What did I know then?

And just look what I did to my Pink Panther. I cried.

Grown-up stuff is too hard to contain inside a child. It will spill.

My pillowthe catcher of all my tears. Godthe storer of all my tears. And I gave God a tremendous amount of tears to handle. Like rain.





Life is hard. Life is hard to understand. So we trust. Trust God. It's all we have, Daughter. And it's more than enough, Daughter.

At only ten, I reached over and took hold of the Bible that I'd been given by my Sunday school teacher. Given just in the nick of time. Given just when I'd needed it. And God showed me that He could be my all. He should be my all. He would be my all. I couldn't place my faith and trust in my mother or my daddyI could only love them. I had to heap all my faith and trust in God, my heavenly Father, the only one who could be the perfect parent.

Godthe restorer of my life. The one who takes all our confused and broken pieces and makes us His restoration project. The one who stitches together our torn pieces now. The one we can spill our insides to now. The one we can entrust with everything now. The one we don't have to be fragile with now or ever. The one who takes every tear and stores it now.

When we want to ask all the questions that so often go unanswered

Why?




Your pillow's stuffing will hold your tears until God can gather them, one by one, in His safe-keeping. Your tears haven't dried, they've just been collected, sweet one.

Because I know you have more questions than you're asking, Daughter. Questions only God knows the answers to, and that seems so unfair. I know. Questions I'll never be able to pull out of you because maybe you think you'll injure me. Maybe you think I'm fragile. Maybe I am, but I won't break. I've already been broken, baby. This mama is tougher than you might think.  




Because when you want to take this side of life in one hand, take the other side of life in the other hand, and pull

Remember that in between lies the body of Christthe one broken for you.

And comprises that beautiful Body of Christsomeone will remind you of that Scripture just in time. Someone will text you encouragement just in time. When you forget, someone will point you to Jesus just in time


His one arm stretched across one side. A nail pounded. His other arm stretched across the other side. A nail pounded. Take His hands. Pull and pour your heart out on His hands.

Because mercy and grace pooled and spilled out, trickling down on you ... the crimson turning the darkness of pain and confusion all white, all pure. All for you.


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Oh, Daughters—She Could Have Been Our First Woman President



"Mama?" The one word that changed everything for me.

"Yes."

"Mama, I heard that women pilots in our nation's air force have really struggled with this issue. They can't fly in this condition, so some choose this course." 

Oh, Daughter.




I had just been in church, the pastor's words on freedom had taken my heart and mind soaring straight to this topic without him ever mentioning a single word about it. 

Why? I don't know. God in me, it had to be.

Because I have no personal experience with this topic. I bear many regretful choices from my teenage life, and I'm thankful this isn't on my list of regrets. But it could have been. Easily. So easily. 

Oh, Daughters.

I felt a whisper over my heart, "You better be brave, and bold, and obedient."

I've hemmed and hawed around ever since, in a feeble attempt to be brave, bold, and obedient. Weeks have passed. Writing and talking it out turns my legs to jello, my insides to mush, tears me apart, rips my heart apart. So please know I'm not judging, but breaking. 

I thought over it all.

Oh, Daughters, I need to tell you something. Because some things one never forgets.

That picture that sits in my bathroom, on the side of the tub? You know the one. The sole purpose of that picture was decoration. Me, the amateur photographer, imagine that. Some fifteen years ago. It seems like yesterday. The day I sat you girls in a bucket for a picture. The dog's water bucket, no less. You were in your pink swim suits, in the bathroom. Watermelon and polka dots. Cutest things. 

One goes in the bucket, then the other. Big sister's legs are getting long. Just drape them over the side. I position those tiny legs and feet. "Smile for me. Say 'cheese' ..." 

Big sister, make sure little sister ...




Some time after, my friend who owned an adoption agency wrote to me. "Shelli, watch this video."

Most people recycle plasticmilk jugs, sacks. Buckets, buckets, and more buckets.

I bend over, peering into the plastic to see something precious ...






Beautiful eyes, beautiful skin.

Little tiny baby legs, feet, arms, hands ...

And then my eyes become so clouded with tears I can no longer see.

My heart gasps and the sound spills out with my breath. My living breath. 

Oh, Daughters.

What could he have been? What could she have been? 

Google "baby in a bucket" ... then Google "aborted baby in a bucket" ... one tiny word changes everything.

And just allow those images to sink in, into the marrow of your bone, your soul.

One baby is sitting joyfully with a smile, covered in feathers or covered in a ballerina tu-tu, tulle ruffles, all pink. Happy. In the other picture, the baby is doubled over. Pale. Legs displaced. Organs displaced, delicate and private parts that should be covered. Crimson paints the body. The baby in a bucket, like something you'd only see in a prison encampment. In a horror film. That baby never had the chance to know happy on Earth, to be snuggled, to wear a onesie, to be burrito-wrapped in softness.

In a bucket. Some things deserve a beautiful burial.

Oh, Daughters.

That young woman thinks she's ejecting to safety, freedom, normalcy. And maybe she doesn't realize that though she'll be free of a live baby, she'll be placing herself in enemy territory. I won't pretend to know, but I hear it, read about it constantlythe pain, the torment, the regret.

No, don't Google. Don't allow those images to sink in. Because we get so accustomed to seeing the bad ... and then it means nothing to us. The images don't stir our heart, don't make us sick, don't break us, don't make us gasp, don't tear us apart.

The images should place our minds in a prison encampment forever. Maybe they do. Maybe they will.

Oh, Daughters, your sweet baby faces come to mind. 






And I thank God that two women gave you girls life. That they placed you girls' tiny infant feet and tiny chunky legs on the side of life. These two precious women, who weren't ready to be mothers, allowed someone else to be a mother. 

Me.






Because that baby in the bucket could have completed someone's family, someone's life, made a family of three, given a sibling ... could have changed everything for someone sunken low in the pit of infertility. 

Maybe the sole purpose of the situation is to keep another from loneliness, to bring life to the dead, to decorate someone's life. Only God knows. But know this

One's desperation could end another's desperation. 





I know life is messy, complicated, but it's worth it. The situation can't be kept a secret, but all secrets come out eventually. The closed always becomes disclosed. 

Oh, Daughters, I pray you never have to choose. I pray you always make wise choices. I pray you never hold a list of regrets.

But placing a baby is a critical choice. Fill arms, Daughters of this world, Daughters of the KingFill empty arms. Place that living, breathing child in living, loving arms, not plastic. That bucketI pray you never allow to be on your list of regrets. 

I pray you recognize there is no choice.






Because some things should never be recycled.

Oh, Daughters, freedom of choice is not free. It's never free to the one whose life was taken. The one who couldn't choose. Life or death. The one who can't speak "Mama" yet certainly can't speak "life" yet. 

What could that child have been? The bucket child. Could that tiny, beautiful baby have filled the position of our nation's first woman president? Just think of it. Can you imagine it?





Oh, Daughters. Where would I be without you?

And I know you. But what kind of mother would I be if I didn't say

Choose life. Choose adoption. Choose family. 

Always. For Life.

Choose ... 

One tiny word changes everything.


















Monday, July 11, 2016

Dear Me, Please Love Me For Me


Dear Me. 

I wake up feeling a frazzled mess. I look a frumpy mess, too. Hair going in every direction. My part off. Oily feeling. Bad breath. No make-up. Pale as a ghost.






I see you notice me. 

You watch the way I chew my breakfastmy "Mama cereal" as the girls call it, with fiberprobably thinking I'm chewing all wrong. I know I'll never get that tooth straightened outthe one I can barely chew on because it's so sensitive. I really can't help it. No, I don't have perfect teeth. Yes, thank you for reminding me that I ate too much sugar in my younger years. I regret that now.




You notice every new wrinkle. And you even have the audacity to say something to me about it. "Look at that new engraved wrinkle under your eye." You point at it, touch it, probably measuring it.

Why are you so hard on me? Oh, Me. 

I'm not young anymore. I'm standing in the middle of the road. I deserve to have a few wrongs that are right. They are right. God made me, so they must be right.

From my head to my toesyou know. Nothing escapes your scrutiny. Do you not have anything better to do? Why do you care so? 

You notice my every gray hair. I had a breast cancer scare just weeks ago, afraid I'd lose life and all my hair to chemo. And you're worried about gray hair? You even run your hand over my new ones, pointing them out. It kind of crushes my heart. You even encourage me to use black-and-white photos so that my gray hair doesn't show as much. I just had my hair highlighted for the first time in my life, thanks to you. $$$ I'm trying to cover the discolored. But to be honest, I'm thankful you don't pull my hair out anymore. That really hurt. My daddy's hair is totally white. He used to pull out his gray hairs, but he had to stop that or he'd have gone bald. I know the thought of my hair color permanently changing forever hurts the heart a little ... but if you pulled my gray hairs now, I'd be partially bald. So really, I'm glad you stopped that. Thank you very much.

Oh, Me. No, I'm not going blind. Well, yes, my eyesight is getting worse. So I guess technically I'm going blind. But readers are cute, right?




My nose? No, it wasn't broken. The x-ray showed it wasn't broken. And no, I don't have nose cancer like Ma-Maw thought. Yes, I did fall out of the bed once when I was a little girl, but honestly, do you think it's possible that my nose profile is the way it is because that's how God made me? I know that one profile side is terrible. I know. You really don't have to remind me. No pictures taken from the right side. I got it. I see you throw away pictures that accentuate that side profile. How do you think that makes a person feel?

My slightly deviated septum? Really? You're actually gonna go there? You see me use nasal spray most every morning. No, I can't help it. Yes, I have allergies.

That one dark hair that keeps popping up above my lip? No, I'm not growing a mustache. I'm a girl. I try to keep it pulled. But I just forget about it. This is all new. I'll remember. I'll try. I'll get it pulled and any friends that try to accompany it in the future. Yes, I'll try not to embarrass you.

My teeth. No, they aren't as pearly white as they used to be. I know. But yes, I've started using whitening toothpaste, and I even stopped drinking Diet Coke and coffee. What else do you want from me?

My neck. How could you point out the wrinkles on my neck? Aren't they beautiful? No, my skin isn't as firm anymore. But yes, when I hold my neck a certain way, the wrinkles aren't as visible. I'm trying.

My back. Crooked spine, I know.

No, my skin isn't creamy smooth like in years past. Yes, my arms are speckled like bird eggs, like my grandmother's and my mother's. News flash: it'll only get worse from here on out. We have fair skin. And maybe we spent too much time in the sun. I had a few brown spots removed the other day, causing sores temporarily on my arms. Face it, you didn't like me with the spots or with the sores.

And I've been working on my biceps and triceps. I've improved. I've gone from lifting 2 lb weights, to 3 lbs, and now up to 5 lbs. 




My pectorals? Now that's just cruel. But just between you and me, maybe the weightlifting will improve that, too. I'm trying to remedy the sagging. Stop nagging.

But could you just make up your mind about me? 

Could you just love me for me?

Don't you dare look at my stomach. No. Don't you dare. But you do. Don't you? I'm not slim enough. When I eat anything with fiber, you comment on the pooch. And maybe there's a pooch without the fiber. Okay, I'll be honest. But why? Why do you always have to look and comment? Can't you just keep quiet? Keep your thoughts to yourself? But no. And then you tell me not to wear those shorts or that skirt because they make my tummy look poochy. Really? Yes, I'm working on my abs. Haven't you seen me doing tummy crunches? I ride the imaginary bicycle most every night, on the closet floor.

Don't you dare say something about my thighs. I know you're dying to. I don't know how to fix the dimples there. If I run, I'll just end up needing knee replacements. My grandmother needed knee replacements, living years in pain. My mama had knee replacements. Bad knees run in my family. I'm walking. I'm trying. I'm trying to age gracefully.

Stop looking so closely at me. 

Stop inspecting me.


And my glutes ... stop it. I'm not 18 anymore. I know I wasn't very consistent with the squats. I tried to be. I really did. Six months or more. But clearly, you didn't notice an improvement anyway. 

Stop it. Stop it.

Dear Me. And you wonder why I have so many headaches.

My feet? Really? I can't help it that a toenail got crushed years ago. My baby dropped her full apple juice cup ... it's a sweet memory. My body is like a photo album full of memories. So stop picking on me. I keep my toenails painted in red to hide that nail. Ugh. What else do you want from me?

What? Is the roughness on my heels so horrific to you? So you bought me a sander. Stupid me ... I grew up thinking only wood needed sanding. Thank you. I'm trying. And I sand my feet Sunday mornings so I can wear my sandals ... maybe not as often as I should, but I'm trying.




Can't you just love me for me? Please?

Me,  you are so hard on me. 


God wouldn't be.

Dear Me, please love me for me.


~~~

Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them. Deuteronomy 28:14

Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31


You were ready to pummel "ME" for me? You were, weren't you? Thank you. 

How do we remain content with ourselves, when the world tells us we should look this way or that? Because how can we possibly accept others if we can't even accept ourselves? Regardless of our size, shape, status, or color, we all need to be loved. But loving others begins at home.

Loving and accepting imperfect others begins with loving and accepting our imperfect selves.