a mother's journey

the musings of one woman on the journey of life

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Location: Katy, Texas, United States

Sunday, January 08, 2012

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Comfort and Joy

The songs were so familiar, I could sing them without a book. That's the way I grew up. Singing out of a book. It seems old-fashioned now, as most churches have moved to the projected words on a screen. Don't get me wrong, I like the change. Either way, as each song began, the words poured from my lips without any need for conscious recall.

"Hark, the herald angels sing..." The immediate emotional impact takes me by surprise. So many emotions. I miss my Little Granny. She's been gone several years already, yet this song has transported me like a time machine. I am little again. Sitting in her living room. Such a small room, a tapestry-printed loveseat is the main seating option. There is the television which picks up only the network channels, across the room from my granddaddy's recliner. There is a candy dish on the marble table, filled with hard candies that have stuck together from neglect, only disturbed when grandchildren visit or the occasional church member or neighbor drops by for a chat. And there, against the wall, is the piano. My Little Granny could play anything out of the song book. And for a moment, I am there, seated on the couch, listening to her play as her crackly voice sings the words.

I am brought back to a more recent past as the song transitions into another. "Silent night, holy night..." This was my favorite part of the Bering scripture and song service. I think this was the week of the year that highlighted best the beauty of our a cappella singing tradition. Christmas carols are meant to have harmonies, I think. At a small church like Bering, you could even make out the individual voices of some of the church members. That bass, that was Ed. The tenor was Bill. And the alto. Oh, the alto was my mother. The alto will always be my mother to me. And now, as we sing, my little girl is attempting the alto line. I change from soprano to alto to lend her some assistance. She is growing up in a different church now. And although it is not an issue of importance to God, I would really love for her to be able to sing alto. Somehow, maybe that will carry on some of the tradition. My tradition. Last year was my last year to lead that service at Bering. And although we love our community church that is becoming our new home, the song makes me yearn for the familiar voices.

"O come, all ye faithful..." My heart shifts back to the present, as my eyes scan the row which holds my precious family. Mom and dad are not here this year, as they are spending this Christmas with Jeremy, Kristy and the kids. Although I am happy to share, it is a poignant reminder that they will not be here forever. I feel for the first time, the weight of my mother's absence. For the first time, I am the matriarch. It is almost a disconcerting feeling. I still feel like a little girl. But yet, I am not. The little girl is standing beside me, leaning in to snuggle under my arm. She strokes my skin and smiles at me. I am her mama. And as complex as that relationship can be, Christmas brings out the best in us all. I smile back at her and draw her in close to me, determined to give her beautiful memories of loving and being loved. One day, she will be the matriarch. She will be the one remembering.

Zeke is being held by Michael, and they both are singing heartily. Thankfulness fills my heart as I know that this place is nourishing my husband's spirit. Zeke is beginning to read now and I can see his eyes scanning the screen for sight words that he recognizes. It seems like just yesterday I was pleading with God. "Please, let him talk." I just wanted to hear "mama", "dadda", something. So many worries with this child. And then the Asperger's diagnosis this year. It's mild. But, it is not going away. Now, as I look at him, he turns his head and for a few seconds, our eyes lock. My beautiful boy. My heart is overflowing with love, love and concern, which always seem to go hand in hand.

I realize that there are tears welling up in my eyes now as the song medley is ending. I want to take out my phone and take pictures of Julia smiling at me, of Zeke cuddling up to Michael, of the love and the candles, but it seems out of place. These are precious moments of comfort and joy. The lights are coming back up and they are instructing us to extinguish our candles now. If only I could freeze time.

But that is not the way of life, is it? The challenge for all of us is to live each day with our hearts full of love and tenderness for the ones we hold dear. Not just on Christmas. May God help us to do just that.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

My book...is...finished!!!

Last weekend, I put the finishing touches on my book! I took the whole thing to Kinko's on my USB key and had it printed out. As the clerk handed me the 245 pages, I cannot describe the excitement that began to bubble up inside me. It was the first time I have seen my book - on paper. I went out to the car and opened the box. I skimmed through the pages, reading wherever my eyes fell. Page after page. I am so proud of it! I truly can hardly wait for you to read it too.

"Life's Too Short to Miss the Big Picture (for Moms!)" will be coming out in April 2012, just in time for Mother's Day! Besides the printed version, it will be available in digital form as well.

I have so many new stories that I know you will love. In honoring my contract, however, I must save those for the book.

April cannot come fast enough. But - in the meantime, I have more time for my blog. Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 27, 2011

New Adventure

When I was fourteen years old, my youth group went on a trip to Colorado to climb a mountain. It was called Wilderness Trek. Although our youth minister, a very Rambo-esque man himself, encouraged us to "get in shape" before the trip, I did not heed that advice. I think I thought I was doing that, but walking an hour and a half a week did not really do the trick. I was not ready. I was ill-prepared for the rocky hills, the thin air and the hours of sustained, elevated heart rate. But, ready or not, it was a big adventure. The biggest I had ever had. Although I was unprepared, the journey was magnificent.

I remember snapshots from the week - the day-long climbs up rolling hills that resembled those in "The Sound of Music", the beautiful nights around a campfire, looking up at the stars and singing "Amazing Grace" to a multitude of tunes. I remember the attempted bath in a frosty stream, followed by the decision that I was not really that dirty. I remember the surprise I felt when I tasted how delicious pancakes and spam could actualIy be. I remember the night my good friend began to show signs of hypothermia, and the relief that she had by cuddling up with another friend in the sleeping bag. I remember trying to repel down the side of a cliff and crying the whole way down, while my Rambo youth minister yelled, "looking good!" at me. I remember putting my foot into a snow bank and sinking into waist-deep snow. This was followed by my brother yelling for help, "somebody come help my sister!" I remember the last day of climbing as we finally reached the summit. We sat on the top and sang, "the greatest high you'll ever feel is on a lonely mountain . . . oh, Lord you are my first love." (It was youth group in the 80's, people.) The view was beautiful. I will never forget it.

I saved a rock from the summit. I still have it among my keepsakes and my life souvenirs. I found that rock today as I was cleaning out some drawers. It meant a lot to me today as I face a new adventure.

I am writing a book. It will be called, "Life's Too Short to Miss the Big Picture - For Moms". My book will come out in May of 2012, in time for Mother's Day. The contract from the publisher came in the mail today. I admit, I am nervous. In fact, when the publishing company made contact with me, my inclination was to decline. I was honored, don't get me wrong. But then the self-doubt kicked in. What if I cannot do it? Maybe this one is just too big. But, in a leap of faith, I said yes. Michael also reassured me that I would not, in fact, run out of words.

Today, as I hold the contract from the publishing company in my hands, I am excited and anxious and a bundle of a lot of other emotions too. It's a big, new adventure. So, as I cleaned house this afternoon, I brought my nearly-25-year-old summit rock out of the drawer to remind me what I am capable of. To inspire me.

It's a new adventure. And this time, I am ready!