Dance in the Downpour

Dear Gabby,

Today as you were busy giving sloppy open mouth kisses to your adoring grandparents, your Uncle Dan and I spent our day listening with our ears and digesting with our hearts a host of information, wisdom, and advice from writers who have already gone ahead of us. I am listening to these writers because I want to learn how to write my story and your Daddy’s story so it will not be lost, and that it can be a part of your story.

I’m sorry to say that what I discovered about writing today is very much like that first tooth in your mouth that is still stubbornly hiding behind your gummy smile. It’s there, but it can be quite a process of pain and it is very uncomfortable. And of course to help relieve your pain, you chew on coffee tables, people’s fingers and Mommy’s I Phone cord. It’s taken me a while to realize this, but you are teaching me to work through the pain of my writing instead of screaming about it. And I can only work through it by involving others into my story. Granted sometimes chewing on fingers is easier then chewing on people’s heartstrings. A physical reaction of pain is easier to see from a friend then an emotional reaction to pain, especially the pain in my own life.

I realized today that I have a lot of work and a lot of writing ahead of me. I love writing. I love writing about you and your Daddy and the small drop of knowledge I have of God in the vast ocean of who He is. I will always love to write, but I have to decide if I should still write on the nights when I am sad and lonely, or the nights when I am tired, or the nights when I am lazy. On those nights when you’re dreaming of that first taste of Mommy’s Reese Pieces with your new and long awaited teeth, I will be laying in bed wondering if writing with that much passion, vulnerability and work is really worth it? (I have to admit, it’s very hard to resist those cute beanie boo eyes of yours. Inching closer to me in such anticipation almost transforms me into this programmed robotic mom who would give you anything you wanted.)

So Peanut, if you see me this week sitting down at my computer, but produce a look of confusion, discouragement and anxiety, you will know that your Mommy answered her question. She answered herself; yes, it is worth the “hard” to share the story. It is worth the nakedness to have the open, unfiltered community. It is worth the risk of failure for the chance to love and to live as I have always been called by Christ.

One day, my daughter, you will have many adventures. You will have places that you want to go and things that you want to do. And the best things are when you get to play in the mud and rain and get dirty. Its easy to live in a partly cloudy, predictable and pleasant climate, but where’s the fun in that? Not just the fun but where is the joy, where is the wonder in predictable? I might regret saying this, but I give you permission to live and get messy. I want you to feel the wet and residual clumps of mud between your sinking toes into the earth below, I want you to see the masterpiece of beauty when you create your first finger painting, I want you to hear the cry of other kids who are hurting, I want you to smell the rain in the middle of a downpour, and I want you to speak the truth to your friends through fear and rejection and self-consciousness.

Things are very unpredictable right now and your Mommy feels like she is caught in a downpour. Many adults that I know do not like to get caught in a downpour of rain. Once you start caring about what you look like, you probably wont like it either. But your Mommy is learning to appreciate the downpour, like a child.  In the downpour you can play and dance and feel a freedom that is unlike any other feeling in the world. You just have to get past the heavy clothes which cling to your body, the standing water in your shoes announcing to everyone you’re presence by a “squish” and it reveals your appearance to others; disheveled, imperfect and messy. Is it worth it? Gabby, do you think it’s worth it for Mommy to dance in the downpour?

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A Community of Followers

Last week at church our pastor (Jeff Manion) told us about a friend who is battling with leukemia. This man couldn’t contain the joy and love he felt as he continued to tell Jeff how so many Christian families have come along side his family and shown incredible love and support; meals dropped off every other night, help with decorating for the holidays, and countless other ways. This man felt the love and support from other Christ-like followers like never before and he said to Jeff, “If we behaved like this all the time, people would be begging to be apart of this,” 

Sitting next to each other that Sunday morning, Chris and I turned and both looked at each other and smiled because Jeff was also talking directly about our family as well. I can’t even begin to start listing all the ways that other believers have helped us and given of themselves in incredible ways. I have received several cards some with cash and gift cards for considerable amounts and they are from other mom’s that have never even met me before but have heard what our family is going through and want to do something. The school that Chris and I both teach had hosted a pancake breakfast last year when I was pregnant with Gabby, taking care of four foster kids and Chris was in the hospital. A non profit community woman’s group, ladies from all different churches and all different backgrounds, organized the event and raised close to $10,000 for our family! Looking back, that was crazy! Then there are those who come right to the hospital at just the right time when I need them and I am strengthened immensely because it is real self-sacrificing love.

It could be that there are some who help that have other reasons for doing so besides the love of God that is in them but its not the majority. Its when a parent of one of Chris’s former students shows up at our ER room right when I am emotionally exhausted from doing this for the forth time in 6 weeks and is there to help me get Chris admitted instead of being told, “go home there is nothing we can do for him”. Its being given a huge box of diapers, never knowing who they were from. Its hearing about churches, of people all over our state, praying for us.

I John 3: 16-18 says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

This is real love and this is the real church. 

How can we do this better all the time? Really the key to witnessing is; find people in need, pour on them God’s love that lives in and through us and love them more then ourselves.  The loving them more then ourselves is the hard part. I also know from our own lives and how it has changed that showing others who God really is and how He loves comes from being able to rejoice in the suffering we are experiencing. It is terrifying feeling like you are being hurled off a cliff and the end is coming up real soon, but it is also incredibly amazing and comforting being hurled off a cliff but held tight in the arms of the almighty sovereign God. I believe that when others can see that, see us falling off that cliff surrounded by the arms of God and we are not freaking out, we are actually at peace and we trust in who holds us, then people are going to look at us and think that that is weird; weird but good.

Imagine with me . . . if you are a “Christian”, you decide right now to do 2 things. First thing, when suffering and trials hit you, you decide to trust God and welcome the suffering in order to experience his love and closeness like never before. Second thing, when suffering and trials hits someone in your church family, you decide to show them the love of God in every possible way in order that trusting God and welcoming the suffering becomes way easier for them. Not only will self-sacrificing love like this help whoever is experiencing the suffering, but it will create a tight knit family who would do anything for each other. Then, and only then, will God himself be able to be revealed through us to the rest of the world. 

(Sorry if there are grammar mistakes- Its 4 in the morning and I couldn’t sleep. I’m mainly apologizing to my husband who is a English teacher.)