Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Piece of Paper

I usually make a "weekend checklist" on Friday morning, complete with boxes to check off. And yes, I usually include a couple things that I have already accomplished. This weekend's list included laundry, responding to some emails, a little shopping, and the word "BLOG". I have been pondering a certain blog all week, but this morning when I sat down, the whole concept suddenly changed.  I grabbed my Bible to reference the building of altars in the Old Testament for the purpose of remembering. But when I took my Bible out of its spot, a piece of paper slipped out to the floor.

I unfolded it. It was a list of all the places Gary and I had spent our 24 anniversaries. We kept a running list, and every year on July 19th, we loved reading it over and reminiscing about all the fun adventures we'd had. Seeing it again took my breath away.

But it's just a piece of paper.

A couple blog entries ago, I wrote about Thomas leaving me a piece of cheesecake the night before I took him to college.  That cheesecake was so tasty. But it was the sticky-note attached that tendered my heart.  This piece of paper is now magneted to my fridge. Daily, I look at it and think about the heart that created it for me. I think about the thoughtful heart that bought the slice of cheesecake, wrote the note, placed it strategically so that it would be the first thing I saw when I opened the fridge on THAT day...a day he knew I deeply needed some "heart."

Not just a piece of paper.

I have, stashed in the way-back of my file box, a collection of random cards that I have kept throughout my adult life.  I look at them periodically, usually when I am searching for a birth certificate or tax document.  This one is a birthday card written to me by my Dad back in 1992. My Dad was a great writer, and by "great," I mean creative, consistent, encouraging and prolific!  His unique handwriting and his messages of love will forever be a comfort to me.

A treasured piece of paper.


As I learn to navigate this new "cheerleading" stage of my life, I have made a new commitment to myself and to my children. I will write to each of them each Sunday evening. Some weeks, the notes will be rather ho-hum. Some weeks they will include details of things my preschoolers have said that have made me laugh. I may or may not slip in a $5 bill or a coffee card. Some will be sermon-ettes springing from a thought or concern I've had that week. And though we talk, email, text, and facetime weekly, making most of the snail-mail subjects "old news" by the time the kids get their letters, I am convinced that there's something just a little different about getting a real letter in the real mail.

Even though it's just a piece of paper.

What are the pieces of paper in your life? The little scraps that together have formed a story? When I die, my kids will get to read through this random collection of mine, and in so doing, little gaps will be filled. They will know their mom, their dad, and their grandpa better. They will know what mattered most to me. And they will know how deeply they were loved.

So much more than just pieces of paper!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Married, With Children

I was one of those little girls who, at age two, would sit in my stroller and point out "babies" to my mom. My mother has confirmed this. As far back as I can remember, I have loved babies. I started babysitting at age 10 for two little boys next door and over the next decade managed to amass hours of experience. I remember at age 14 holding days-old Amy and panicking when she got the hiccups because I didn't know a baby so small and new could even GET hiccups. Unfortunately, I was only making $.50/hr, so early retirement is not in the cards for me.

I was also one of those little girls who dreamed of her prince. I grew up with brothers, so it wasn't so much the "mystery and intrigue" of men that appealed to me. It was more the strength. As a young teen, I longed to find Mr. Right, settle down, and start having those babies!  So, yes. My heart's desire while growing up was to be married, with children.

God is good. He honored that desire and brought Gary into my life when I was 24 years old. We were married at 26 and my firstborn came when I was 28.  By 34, I'd had another daughter and a son, and I was feeling like my life could not be better. I considered myself a good mom. I loved and enjoyed my children. Growing, protecting, educating, entertaining and feeding them was my passion, and my gifts were being maximized. Were all days good and sweet? Nope. I failed repeatedly. I often fell asleep feeling that I could have been more, done more, played more, listened more. But for the most part, I was living the dream.

Fast-forward to Friday, September 20th, 2013. Launch Day. 

I DID make Tommy a hearty breakfast. We DID load up both cars. The drive took longer than expected, but the check-in/unload process went well.  I DID make his bed while he decorated with posters. When we got him checked in, there was a little booklet called a "passport" on his desk. The RA emphasized the importance of reading this book and having it with you at all times. So, he did. The first mandatory student-only meeting was at 6. It was now 4:45. We headed to the bookstore to buy pens and notebooks. Then we ate. Tick...tick...tick...

The gumball-sized throat-lump seemed to be growing by the minute. Now it was a walnut. Then a golf-ball. By 5:45, it was a tennis ball.  At 5:50, I hugged my son harder than I have in a LONG time. I struggled to say goodbye. Tears flowed. And suddenly, as I pulled away, I realized: I was neither "married", NOR "with children".

It took me three hours to drive home. I wept, processed, and wept some more. I struggled with identity. If I'm not a wife and mom, WHO AM I?

God is not only good. He is gracious, compassionate, kind. He reminded me that I am beloved, bought with a high price: the blood of Jesus. He reminded me that I have a hope and a future. HE knows the plans He has for me, and that is enough.  It was a hard drive home, but by the time I unlocked my door and walked into this quiet apartment, I was comforted. God has provided for me in my hour of greatest need, and I have no reason to believe this will change. I am filled with a sense of anticipation...

 The Campus at CWU.  Tommy's dorm is by the green-topped building.

I told him he was lucky--his dorm is the closest dorm to food.

It gets really windy there, evidently. I did not share this news with Tommy. He'll find out soon enough!
 Tommy's dorm is called "Hitchcock." I don't think Tommy knows who Alfred Hitchcock is, and I'm hoping this dorm was not named after Alfred.

Tommy has girls living 2 doors down. This scares me.  I am glad he grew up with sisters.
Maybe the "mystery and intrigue" will not be as much of a factor for him. Maybe.
And here is the college freshman on his bed. Just looking at this picture brings the tennis ball back. Pray for my man-child, that God would continue to protect and guide him.  Thank you for reading my blog!

Friday, September 20, 2013


Launch Day!

My brother-in-law is a rocket scientist. How cool is that?  When they have a launch scheduled, his life is on-hold.  His family knows that until that rocket launches, they are in a holding pattern. 

Today I launch my son, Thomas, my lastborn child. My emotional life has been in a holding pattern this last month as I have prepared to take him to college.  I am nervous, excited, expectant, and sad. But to be honest, the winning emotion here is GRATITUDE.  

 Back in 1994, the thought of a third child was just a hope. When God blessed us with not only a third child but a SON, my heart overflowed with gratitude. Tommy has been a joy to raise. He started out laid-back, and he has been that way ever since. He has given me so many proud moments, along with some moments of raw fear, thank-you-very-much! He has been an appreciative eater, which if you know me and my love of feeding people, is a HUGE thing! He has cared for me with quiet stability.  I love him more than life.

When our lives were turned upside-down a couple years ago, I set a goal with regards to Thomas.  I wanted to heal to the point that he did not feel that he had to stay with me to take care of me. When he was accepted to Central in January, I was thrilled. He reached his goal, and I reached mine. God is good!

When I awoke this morning, I knew this day would be very different than most, so I started out the way I always do--by
making myself a cup of coffee. When I reached in the fridge to grab the creamer, there was a little box from the Cheesecake Factory containing a slice of cherry cheesecake, my favorite. A post-it note on the top said, "MOM."

The first of many tears began to flow at that point. Soon I will wake Tommy up, make him some bacon and eggs. We'll pack his car, then mine, and off we'll go...over the mountain to Ellensburg. I'll make his dorm-bed, get him situated, and off I'll go. At that moment, my role will change. I have been nurturer/grower for 25 years, starting with Molly. Today I will begin the slow-shift to full-time cheerleader.  I do not know what this looks like, exactly, but I will cherish the role just as I have cherished parenting all these years.

I am ready. I am ready because Tommy is ready. Yes, I will likely have to pull over as soon as the college is out of sight. I'll need to cry a good one before hitting the freeway for home.  And then the reality of this day will begin to sink in, and I'll cry some more. But truly, this is the best kind of pain, isn't it?  Growing children to the point that they can leave you is a beautiful privilege. 

I will miss this child!  I will miss feeding him, watching Pawn Stars with him, and hearing his "'Night Mom, I love you," voice when he comes in at midnight. I have boxes stashed in which I will send him sour gummy worms, beef jerky, laundry quarters and gas money. I will look forward to his first-day-of-school text. And I will pray for him. God is good! Tommy: YOU GOT THIS!