Thursday, October 26, 2006

Small Pleasures...

I thought I would write about some of the things that have made me smile lately. First I got to go watch Josh play this past weekend up in the great hall at Covenant College. It is rare that I am ever able to go to his shows since pregnancy and momming doesn't mix too well with being in smoky bars all night. It was so nice to be able to go and pretty nostalgic. Some things never change, still checking out the cute guy behind the drums.

Since the sun has returned we've been loving playing in this beautiful weather. It makes me smile how despite age and gender differences Meadow and Juden play like the best of little buddies. I watched Juden chase Meadow up a hill in Wildwood. He fell and she ran about half the way back, picked him up and ran the rest of the way holding his hand. She is so sweet. We also enjoyed some of the charms of Chattanooga, the park and the bridge. It is so nice to live in this town with little kids. We also went to the aquarium this week with Mimi and Nana. We saw this awesome blue butterfly in the butterfly gardens that Ella examined with a very perplexed expression. Sometime I need to go by myself since I could spend hours reading and staring at everything in this peaceful place but Juden likes to run from tank to tank.

And to kick off some of the small pleasures of this week we watched Nacho Libre with some people. I know Josh's sense of humor is rubbing off on me because this movie had me giggling the whole time.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


"Now constantly there is the sound,
quieter than rain,
of the leaves falling.
Under their loosening bright
gold,the sycamore limbs
bleach whiter.
Now the only flowers are beeweed and aster,spray
of their white and lavender
over the brown leaves.
The calling of a crow sounds
loud-a landmark-now
that the life of summer falls
silent,and the nights grow."-Wendell Berry

Today is the fourth consecutive day of rain and I'm starting to miss the sun. It has recently begun to feel like autumn in this valley I call home. Autumn is my favorite season, I guess it always has been. Something about the cool stillness, the muted somber skies that contrast the vibrant colors of the trees resonates with me. Autumn holds lots of golden memories for me of apple picking with my family when I was little, jumping in big piles of leaves, the smell of apple cinnamon doughnuts, walking in Philadelphia and sitting in the park in my favorite sweater and gray hat, listening to Simon and Garfunkel. Autumn is the season I fell in love with Josh, and the season that every year after we got married, at least before the wee ones started arriving, he would take me on what he liked to call "romantic rendezvous." These were little camping trips along the Blue Ridge Parkway when the leaves were at their brightest and best. It is exciting for me to be able to be the first one to introduce all the beauty and wonder of Fall to my little loves.
Autumn now holds some sorrows for me as well and in these days of grayness they feel closer than ever. October four years ago we lost our very first baby, hope cut short by a still little baby on a computer screen and silence instead of a heart beat. So now every year when the leaves start to change I think of my little one that I never got to know. Then two autumn's ago were the last days I spent with my sweet dad before he died on November 8 less than three months after he was diagnosed with cancer. Before these events grief to me was a very distant concept. I realized we needed another word much more powerful than "missing someone". And the kind things that people say to you like,"time will heal, and it will get easier," for me could not have been further than the truth. After a certain amount of time you are supposed to not need to talk about it, supposed to stop hurting. Sometimes I feel like I am clinging to movie reels about to be eaten by an old projector. If I replay all those sweet memories over and over maybe they will not become fuzzy. After my dad died I read lots of books on grief. 'A Grace Disguised' by Gerald Sittser was the best. I suppose there is healing in terms of overall acceptance and peace that God's timing is perfect. But with the passing of time, for me the missing intensifies and I have learned that when you experience true grief you carry it with you always and it changes you. But even death is not without some beauty. In my brothers words "we watched the decline of our father's physical body and the absolute renewal of his spirit." My father was at times a rather distinguished English man used to formal Orthodox Presbyterian worship, but in his dying days he worshipped with complete abandon like a man who knew the end of his journey was near. His hands raised in song, tears streamed from his eyes and scripture spilled from his lips, a passion you could feel, a vision of him forever emblazened on my mind. His worship was a gift to me, and since his death my own worship has been deeper and sweeter. So now as green turns to gold and orange I think about my baby, I think about my dad I think about those things in me which need to be stripped ,that need to die, so His beauty can shine brighter.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A friend who is an artist (Katie Knutson) recently did a thoughtful and beautiful painting of my very own son. I thought for any one interested I would tell the story behind it, because, well... sometimes you just have to testify. It was a Saturday the day before Easter. Mimi and Oak and Meadow had come over to dye Easter eggs and make chocolate bird nests. Josh and I had been up almost the entire night before because of incidents with Ella but I trudged through the day wanting to be a part of the festivities with Juden. Then I went and laid him down for his nap thinking he'd fall right to sleep. A little while later I heard him whining and went to check on him. He looked like he was almost asleep but his room was stuffy and he was all sweaty. It was the hottest day we'd had yet and our window units were not installed yet. Without even thinking twice I opened his window about a foot and thought he would drift right off. I gave him a kiss and continued putting things away upstairs. A few minutes later Josh came through the back yard from a bike ride. Josh was barely in the door when we heard a loud crash. I thought Juden must have fallen out of bed and before I even had time to think Josh was down the stairs and outside. Juden had fallen from his second story window of our tall 100 year old house into the grass. I felt my heart racing but still felt like I could'nt grasp what had just happened. Juden was immediatly getting up and into Josh's arms. He definitely had the wind knocked out of him but as we looked at him we could'nt see anything wrong. He had calmed down surprisingly quickly. We think he got out of bed when he heard Josh come home and must have pushed or leaned on the screen because he busted out the entire screen and frame. I was almost numb with fear of what must be wrong or what might be unable to be seen. We headed to the emergency room. It is difficult to imagine what it feels like to have your child go through an accident of this magnitude and then add the guilt of realizing it was my fault. I felt so much pressure in my chest I felt physically sick. When we entered Juden was perfectly calm and I heard myself saying the words, "He fell about 15 -18 feet out of his window," but I could not believe the words that I was speaking. He was admitted and they put him into a tiny neck brace and they scanned every inch of his little body looking for internal injuries because of the height of the fall. Amazingly every report came back fine. They wanted to keep him over night so they could keep their eye on him. That night seemed like a dream and was my second night without sleep. For a long time I laid next to him in the hospital bed drinking in his sweet familiar scent watching his chest rise and fall. Then I had to leave in the middle of the night to nurse Ella. As I laid a contented baby down I walked into Juden's room filled with moonlight. I could do nothing else but get on my knees and pour out my heart to God. I was exhausted, overjoyed, and incredibly overwhelmed by the grace I had been shown that day. On Easter morning my sweet boy was released from the hospital without even so much as a bruise, on the very day we celebrate God sacrificing His only son. Monday morning Josh went back to work and I tried to get into my normal mommy routine. But I felt anything but normal. I was slow to lose my patience and very quick to hug.
Just waking him up in the morning felt like such a gift. I was weepy and frazzled and incredibly paranoid; it seemed like everywhere I looked I saw a potential danger. I realized that although I was so thankful for Juden's safety I could not be at peace with the guilt of what could have been. I kept telling myself I was entrusted with this child that I failed to protect. I failed to foresee danger and perhaps even caused it. I was questioning everything about my identity as a mom, my very highest calling. I felt like the worst mother in the world. Finally I called Josh at work crying and he came home immediatly. What happened next is something I will forever hold precious in my heart as one of the little signs God sends us on our journey to remind us of his gentle love and care. As Josh watched the kids play in the yard I wandered over and stood under Juden's window. It was painful to bring myself to look up. Then something caught my eye and as I knealt down I saw a tiny sparrow lying where Juden had fallen, delicate and beautiful with no sign of the distress that had caused its demise. I started to cry and at that moment I felt like God said to me, "I saw this sparrow fall and I saw Juden fall And I held him, I didn't have to but I did." This was a very meaningful symbol to me. "His eye is on the Sparrow" was one of my father's favorite hymns and also one of mine. I whispered that phrase in my Dad's ear on more than one occasion while I watched him battle the cancer that took him from us less than two years ago. I had sung it to Juden many a night and maybe to myself as a reminder of God's absolute control and of our incredible worth to him. The hymn is based on Matthew 10:29- "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall to the ground without your Father." What a powerful reminder of a God that cares for every little creation and how much more He cares for and loves us. So God spoke peace to me through a tiny bird, and every time I see one I will be reminded of the day God held my son and gave him back to me.