I could hear Micaela's squeals and Adela's giggles all the way on the other end of the house when Jovani got home in time tonight to tell them goodnight before they fell asleep. We had just got back from Albuquerque and I looked out the window often, hoping he would come home before they went to bed.
It is silly of me to get upset. My husband works so very hard to provide for us and he loves us more than words can express. Yet, when I compare the endless hours I spend with our children to the little moments or days he shares with us, I often feel frustrated.
Negative feelings like that towards our husbands, our providers, the fathers of our children, and our other halves, those feelings cannot take up residence in our hearts. They don't belong. But today I battled those emotions and finally sat down to pray.
God, I said, I just want it to be okay. I want our girls to be okay. I don't want Jovani to miss anything.
God didn't answer me, instead my eyes caught the camera lying on the countertops and I reached over and grabbed it. Flipping through the pictures I stopped on the one above. It was taken last weekend when Jovani came home from working cattle all day long but instead of going in to rest, he got the girls on horses. In that hour or so they learned so much from him. They learned about animals and the outdoors. They had his arms around them. They felt loved. They felt important. They knew they were special.
Do I ever give that much of myself to my girls for even an hour at a time? The answer is no. I help them color while I cook dinner. I work on developmental skills while I think about my to-do list. I give them a bath and become frustrated when they splash water on the floor. No, the answer is no.
Daddy time is not like Mommy time. It is just not. It is a species of experience all of its own.
And when I realized that, I felt that deep peace. God had given me my answers. It is okay. My girls have an amazing father who is doing everything right for them and his family. He is devoting time to providing and squeezing in precious moments with them, doing things that I would never do with a heart that is not mine.
Daddy time is not Mommy time--not in quality or quantity--and it is just as powerful and important.
Bible school for kids today was so much fun. My girls are just a little too young to appreciate everything about it, but today, when I sat on the floor between pews and watched Adela dance and jump and sing the kids songs I had so much peace. This was a good thing. Yes, it took time away from laundry, Micaela's physical therapy, and my writing, but fellowship is so important.
I forget that sometimes.
If you are and introvert like me then you know the feeling.
We want to stay in our bubble, in our comfort zone.
We want to stay home.
But I don't think God meant for us to keep to ourselves.
We need friends. We need to sit at someone's table and laugh with them. We need to go for walks and enjoy the sunshine. We need someone to go to when we feel like we are at the end of our rope. We need to be part of something and let others know they can count on us.
I used to have the belief that being part of a community or church was entirely optional. My family, my walk with God, that was my business. And it is. It is first and formost between me and my Heavenly Father. But when I became one of his children I also became part of his great family. And it is such an amazing family. Full of people who are imperfect but full of His Spirit.
Who we are is greatly shaped by who we spend the most time around.
So, I will take my daughters to Bible school and fill their hearts with the love for fellowship.
There is always time for that.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
Micaela looked down at her braces with an interesting mix of curiosity and horror. I watched and held my breath. Would she cry? Would she protest? I stayed near, ready to come and hold her, distract her if she became upset that she still had these clunky braces stuck to her legs.
But after a few moments she found a block lying a foot away and threw herself down on the floor so she could reach out and grab it. Her movements were clumsy and awkward. My heart sank. It had taken us months to get where we were with our mobility. And now these braces. It was like we had spent half a year taking two steps forward and would be sent three steps back.
Micaela let out a frustrated growl. Her legs seemed to move lethargically. I bit my lip. I talked to her, making my voice extra-perky, but that smart little girl knew better and continued to protest. I played with her and talked with her, but eventually life kept moving forward and I had to walk away, leave her to play on her own. She did not move much that morning. That afternoon I gave her a break from the braces and she gleefully rolled around, free from restriction. That night she slept with them on. The specialist recommended that she keep them on about 23 hours a day.
Day two. She figured out how to take them off and chew on them. I was reattaching braces to her legs all day long. Micaela loved it. Finally a game she could endorse.
I threw tighter pants and rubber-footed socks on her for day three. Her game was over. I waited for the crying and frustration, but she was over it. She threw herself on the ground and began to explore the house. When I found her in the kitchen chewing on tomatillo skins I cocked my head and said, "Goodness, love, you are much more resilient than I am." She is.
Why? Because she does not get caught up in her plight in life, she does not ponder it and wade in it and let it become her identity. No, she is moving forward. It might be hard. Things are weighing her down and making it harder than it is for anyone else, but it doesn't matter. She isn't anyone else. She is going ahead, not staying in place.
Over and over she has chosen to focus on where she is going and not what is weighing her down.
Isn't it amazing when our kids teach us something deep and important? I think about my writing and how I have a million and one excuses to stop and put my dreams away for awhile, but in order to move forward I cannot dwell on my disadvantages.
And it applies to every other challenge we are faced with day-to-day like having to be hungry if we want to lose weight when our best friend never struggles with dieting. Like having to somehow find the energy and love to care for our family when we had to wake up five times during the night and everyone is well-rested except us. Like having to do without the latest fashion for this season's wardrobe so that you can put money away for that down-payment on the house. What are we going to focus on--What we are moving towards? Or what is weighing us down?
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
This weekend was beautiful. I drove out to Arizona with my Dad. We came to visit my Mom's grave and to hug family that we had not seen for much too long. It was the first time Micaela has ever made the trip and the first time most of them had even been able to touch her. Adela seemed to fall instantly in love with all the aunts, uncles, and cousins that she had not hugged in nearly two years. Every moment was precious and I was so thankful this trip had finally happened.
I have a cousin who is more like a sister. Her name is Christine. She is simply one of those people in my life who I will always be close to even if we go a year without speaking a word. Her love and friendship is a constant in my life. I couldn't get enough of watching her two year-old girl play and talk. I soaked up every nuance of her beautiful personality, so eager to get to know this tiny person who owned a piece of my heart even though she did not recognize my face. It was fun to see bits and pieces of my cousin, my aunt, my deceased uncle, and my cousin's husband in this little girl. My eyes misted with tears from the amazement I felt. A child is such an incredible creation.
Funny, but my cousin said the same thing about my girls, and being a talented photographer, I actually got to peek inside her head and see my children through her eyes. I saw two little girls that were loved and cherished beyond belief even if they were sassy and exhausted, even if they had special needs and an uncertain future, my girls are so loved.
You know, it has never been our job to love our children all alone. There are so many loving hearts out there who understand the perfect creations that are our kids. From the preschool teacher who smiles at Adela as she walks her to the bus to the neighbors who eagerly hold out arms for Micaela whenever they are near, God has blessed my daily life with people who have hearts of love for my little ones even when I am exhausted.
I know people often feel discouraged by this life and this world, but I have seen more unrequested love since I became a mother than I ever thought possible.
Thank you, God, for so blessing me, for blessing us, for blessing my family.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
I had a dream this weekend that scientists had figured out a way to resurrect my baby, Isabela. If I was willing, they would bring her to life so that I could hold her for a few minutes before she passed away again. In my dream I could not refuse the offer. So they did it. They brought her back to life so that I could hold her in my arms again, just a few moments, and say good bye.
My sobs woke me up. And for the next two days I fell in and out of grief. I cried a lot. It had been nearly four months this time since I had cried for her. Almost half a year since I had felt that intense panic, realizing I could never hold my Isabela again, until I saw her in Heaven.
When you lose someone to death, it is permanent on this earth. For me that has always been the worst part. They are gone. I cannot fix it. And the pain scares me, because there is no cure.
I've had a lot of friends inflicted with loss the last few months. They have lost parents and friends. Their pain is as real as the heavy clouds blackening the sky today. When asked how to survive, all I can say is that it won't always feel like this. It will come and go, ebb and flow like waves bringing the ocean to the sand. And then, one day, it will come to an end.
God has promised that one day, he wipe all our tears from our eyes and there will be no more pain. We will be united once again with all those who are gone and our world will be perfect with no more hurt and no more death.
Someday, I will hold Isabela again.
Someday there will be no more pain that I have lost her.
I hold his promise close to me and lift my face to the sun.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
I would be touched to pray for you and your family who are going through a time of loss. Just let me know. To contact me click here.
The girls have been under the weather this week. Nothing intense, just runny noses, fevers, and crying. I love them so much and hate their pain, but after a few days of this my ability to keep smiling started to show its cracks and then shattered altogether.
I felt nothing less than frustrated and tired of the whole thing. I simply wanted five minutes when neither Micaela or Adela was stuck to my body, crying, or needing something. It felt like all my love was gone, seeped out of me like someone had poked a tiny hole in my heart and let it all drain out. There was nothing left but to simply make it through.
Their behaviors got worse even as their fevers lowered and their noses started to dry up. And every time I heard one of their little voices my hands would ball up into fists and I would consider bolting for the door.
It was time for me to start cooking supper--green chile stew and bread. And if they had a problem they were just going to have to survive for the next hour. I was done.
Stomping into the kitchen I began to put away dishes and clear the area for mixing dough. Like a wolf who scents meat on the air, Adela ran into the kitchen as I pulled out the tub of flour.
"Mama, estamos cocinando?" Are we cooking, she asked.
"No." I lied without thinking. "I'm not doing anything. Go watch Hercules."
But three-year olds were not born yesterday. She ran and grabbed her stool and began to "help". Help means that each spoon, each cup, each pat of butter must be put in by her hands, counted, and mixed. I looked at the clock. There was no way dinner would be done on time. Thanks for the help.
Micaela let out a angry cry. I went to help her get out from underneath an end table and settled her on the floor to play with a car.
"Delicious!" Adela's exclamation made my head come up and gaze upon my happy little monster. She had the cup I had used to sprinkle flour on the dough while kneading and was pouring it into her mouth.
And all I could think as I stared at her was, "I can't believe you are that happy."
I could just see it, in her eyes and in her heart, everything was just fine. She was content even if I wasn't emotionally being as strong today for her as I needed to be.
There is so much mercy in motherhood. I wonder how many angels hover over us, gently shelter our family, and help me make it from morning to night as we raise two little girls into caring and loving women. It seems like we can make big mistakes and harbor faulty habits and yet God finds a way to guide us out of things and protect our children.
There is so much mercy there. So much love from our Heavenly Father as he watches over our journey as parents and hears our prayers for our children.
I felt that peace stay with me the rest of day as Adela and I baked those loaves of bread and as I snuggled Micaela one last time before tucking her in the crib. God's shelter and protection rests over me and above my family.
May it rest upon you and yours as well.
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Sometimes Monday morning comes and finds me ever more exhausted than I was Friday evening. This morning when the coffee pot finished brewing, I stared into the black liquid and thought, "This isn't going to be enough." And it wasn't.
Don't get me wrong, I had a fantastic weekend. Saturday I enjoyed time with the girls and Sunday we had church followed by my nephew's first birthday party. I even went to bed early. But I felt far from rested, refueled, and ready for life when my feet hit the floor this morning.
And then what happens? Coffee. Sugar. Fatty snacks. I seem to think that some weird food combination will infuse my body with enough enjoyment and calories that I can kick-start into loving life again.
Ha. No such luck. I guess if jelly beans and cream cheese could beat such things as exhaustion, depression, anxiety, and etc, then the doctor would write them out on our prescriptions.
I got lunches packed, chores done, and saw my daughter off to school. It was just me and Micaela kicking it while I prepared for therapists from New Mexico's School of the Blind and Visually Impaired (NMSBVI) to arrive. I turned on some Contemporary Christian music as I trudged through various tasks.
Funny thing about that--the Christian Music got me to thinking, the thinking got me to praying, and before I knew it I had the stamina and energy to focus on my day with a positive attitude. I wasn't just ready, I was excited. I felt loved and confident and alive. I was refocused. I was refueled.
My eyes misted over when I was reminded once again that my Heavenly Father was just waiting for me to come to Him so He could fill me up. There was never any excuse for running on empty. I wiped my eyes and chuckled. God, I should probably tape a big note to my Bible that says "Refuel Here." And another one on my prayer journal. And another on my kitchen window so that I am talking with You instead of worrying while I wash dishes.
Its tough, isn't it? To remain focused and centered on God as the world moves forward. Perhaps we simply need reminders to refuel with God when we start running on empty. Sure, food and sleep will get us somewhere, but there is a difference between arriving and conquering. I don't just want to get there, I want to rise above it. I want to own it. I want to conquer it so that nothing left has the ability to steal my love of life or peace.
What are your favorite ways to refuel with our Amazing God?
Those who hope in the Lord
It was warm this morning. My tired eyes looked around and blinked with hope. No frost on the ground. No biting wind and angry gusts. My blood hummed. Spring. Finally.
I hopped back into my kitchen and began the circus the popping kids out of bed and stirring up a pot of spicy sausage gravy that would be poured over fluffy biscuits. Hope. Hope. Hope. Spring is here. Jovani and I sipped our coffee and enjoyed our breakfast as we talked. The girls played.
Later, I slopped soapy water over dirty dishes. My mind whirled with plans. I could go running outside more easily now without the wind and frigid weather. Perhaps our two surviving tomato plants would start to thrive. Jovani finished his coffee and began preparing for his day. I called to him not to worry about bundling up. It was a nice day. He left to go outside and feed the animals.
Ten minutes later he shuffled back inside, stomping his feet. I clapped Micaela's tiny hands together, "Papa is back."
I could almost hear his pause. I stilled, waiting for whatever he needed to say.
"Honey," he called out, "Did you know it is snowing outside?"
I raised my eyebrows. "Ha. Ha." I replied. "As if!" I was not going to fall for jokes this morning.
It was quiet for a brief second. "No, really. Come and look." I sighed and picked myself off the floor, moving Micaela to my hip as I walked to the window.
I glanced out to the pines and my mouth fell open. Tiny little flakes danced down to the ground in flouncing waves of winter. It really was snowing.
I didn't know what to think. When was the last time it had snowed? One month? Two? But there it was. Just enough of it filling the air that it commanded notice. The pines set a backdrop to the cheeky storm so that each flake could be seen as it fell.
The chuckle that I gave in to could not be held back.
Good one, Nature. April Fools it is.
“As long as the earth endures,
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"...and God was already there with me."