Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tattered Towels and Chipped Dishes

As I dried off from my shower this morning I looked at the towel I was using.  It was a nice olive green, thick fluffy towel.  At one time.  It is now somewhat faded and the edges are showing some wear.  It seems like yesterday I was just opening up the box laden with tissue paper and several brand new, fluffy towels and washcloths.

Fast forward a bit to breakfast.  I reached up to grab a bowl for my daughter's cereal.  Yep - another small chip on the edge. The dishes are showing their wear, too.  I remember picking them out and registering for them and just hoping that I received enough place settings to serve meals to the guests we would one day welcome into our home.  Hoping that these dishes would be used by friends and family and would last for awhile. 

Our pots and pans are starting to show their age.  We are driving different cars now than we did back then.  We have made so many changes in our lives.  We don't even live in the same state.

October 18, 2003
But there is one constant. One thing that has improved with time.  The marriage that began 9 years ago is oh so much better than it was when it started. 

And I thought we had it pretty good then.

Daniel and I have weathered a few storms and have seen joy and sadness as we have built our life together.  And I am still in awe that someone as wonderful as him could love me the way he does. 

Today, we are light years from where we were 9 years ago.  Not just because we moved from Georgia to Maine.  Not just because we have had two wonderful children.  Not just because we have held each other through the tough times and moments of sadness and grief.  We are better because we have been through it all together.  We have walked beside each other through the thick and thin.  And Daniel is still my favorite person to be around.  I am happiest just being close to him.  Holding his hand. Driving down the road.  Talking.  Sipping coffee amid the noise of our life (and wonderful children). 

A reporter once asked Johnny Cash what he thought heaven was like.  His answer was something like this: "This morning, having coffee with her,"  (referring to June Carter... the love of his life). 

That is exactly how I feel about Daniel. 

So today, we celebrate 9 years together.  Among the tattered towels, chipped dishes, and other things that are only here for a moment... I am so glad to be married to the love of my life.  And it just keeps getting better with time.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Right now I really am a GracefulMess!

Ramblings from this week...

I have a few posts that I stop and start and never publish... so I thought I would get a few of those random thoughts out there.  They are incomplete and somewhat ridiculous, much like myself...

What is a southern girl like you doing in northern Maine???

I am asked that on a seemingly daily basis. Usually when someone hears me talk.  Just come to the grocery store if you don't believe me...

I am generally polite and mutter something about coming up here for my husband's job.  And then they automatically know what my husband does, because apparently nobody else ever moves up here for any other reason than that of what my husband does.

What I really want to say is, "Yes, I'm glad you like my accent... but like my husband says, I'm not the one with that talks funny..."   (Actually most people where we live in Maine don't have the thick northern accent our coastal Maine friends have... so I guess my slow southern drawl really does stand out.)

Oh, and apparently there's an issue of whether or not a southerner can handle living up here because of how harsh the winters can be.   After the accent remarks, the next question is usually this: "Have you been here through the winter yet?"

Well, we are making it pretty well.  It hasn't been that bad yet.  We have a warm house and do what true Mainers do... we make the best of our time here and do what we have to do to get by.  We have good friends and are doing what we can to be involved in the church and our community.  We stay busy... And we do pretty well for southern folks "from away*". 

*If you aren't from Maine, they say you are "from away"... so I am not worried about offending anyone with my accent comments.  After all, I'm just "from away," right?   

Am I glad we made the move north?  

That is another blog for another day. 

Marriage and Children.

I love my sweet children. They bring the majority of our chaos and make the best messes. They are so beautifully different from each other and so delightfully perfect.  Perfect for us. 

My husband says that our children are beautiful because our love for each other is beautiful.  I can't argue with him there.  And yes, my husband really is that sweet.

In their wake, our children leave toys strewn across every room of our house. They leave clothes wherever they are taken off. They leave crayons and books and paper and whatever they are playing with wherever it ends up when they are finished.  They splash water out of the tub and leave nasty blue globs of toothpaste in the sink. 

Oh what sweet little mess-makers they are!!

Emalee - with straight hair!
Our daughter likes to experiment with various beauty products when we aren't around and our son can get into anything he can reach. 

I really think my son believes deep down in his heart that he can fly.  And our daughter really does know everything. Already.

Super Eston!
Emalee and Eston play wonderfully with each other and drive each other crazy at the same time. This is the chaos that makes me smile each day. 

Because I know that one day, and maybe even now, they are each other's best friend.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A True Woman of Valor

I was inspired to write this by a blog that I follow (Rachel Held Evans).  I haven't told the entire story here.  How do you write about such a life well-lived?  I have simply tried to give you a snapshot of this amazing woman, my grandmother. 

Emmie Kathryn Adams

Woman of Valor
Every time I say your name in prayer – which is practically all the time – I thank God for you, the God I worship with my whole life in the tradition of my ancestors.  I miss you a lot, especially when I remember that last tearful good-bye and I look forward to a joy-packed reunion.  That precious memory triggers another: your honest faith – and what a rich faith it is…God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible.

– 2 Timothy 1: 3-7

Bold, loving and sensible. Three words that very accurately describe my grandmother.  Her grandchildren knew her as Mimim.  Her sons called her Mother.  Her friends, Emmie.  She lived her life boldly, loved with her whole heart, and was sensible with what God entrusted her with.  She was a kind and loving woman and loved nothing more than to love others – and fiercely loved those she called family. 
I was one of the lucky ones. A special group of her favorite people. I was one of her grandchildren.  She loved each of us for who we were and sought to make each of us feel special and cherished.  We thought we were unique in how she loved us because she loved each of us so specifically but the funny thing is – that is how she loved everyone.

Emmie & JB Adams
As a child and young adult, Mimim told me stories of her life. She lost her mother at age 5 and was raised mostly by her two aunts.  From the stories she told me, those two women were tough but definitely taught Mimim how to be a strong woman.  A product of the Great Depression, she learned at a very young age to make the most of what she had and to never waste anything.  As a young woman, she met the love of her life, J.B., and they were married when she was 23. She used to tell me that he fell in love with her because she made tasty cakes and treats.  I think he must have loved her for her own natural sweetness.  Together they had three sons and ventured into business together.  We have a collection of home videos from when my father was a boy and in those black and white clips you see a family, full of love and adventure in the everyday, normal routine things. 
When she was 45, my grandmother’s world forever changed as she lost the love of her life to a heart attack.  Her oldest son Danny was a sophomore at Georgia Tech, her middle son Jimmy (my dad) was a junior in high school, and her youngest son Rufus was in first grade.  JB left her a $10,000 life insurance policy and a business that was $30,000 in debt.  When my father graduated from college six years later she still had the $10,000 in the bank and the business debt was paid.  Her two oldest sons graduated from college with no student loan debt and her youngest attended a private high school.  She knew how to manage her finances well and she did so quietly and deliberately – as she did with her business. 

As a child, every now and then my brother and I would luck up and get to spend the night with her on Saturday and attend church with her the next morning.  I loved waking up in her house to the smell of bacon and cheese grits.  I loved that she always happened to have a piece of candy in her purse for me to eat during church (even though it was probably there just to keep me quiet…).  Most of all I loved to hear her sing hymns. There are still some hymns that I can’t hear without hearing her strong voice in my mind.  The most memorable for some reason is “Blessed Assurance”:

Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.
When I met the love of my life, I had no idea that he would be my husband one day. I think Mimim knew he would be the first time she met him.  She instantly welcomed him into our family and loved him as one of her own. Once I realized he was a “keeper”, I began to understand the depth of the love that my sweet grandmother must have felt for her beloved JB.  She told me more than once that if I didn’t hurry up and marry Daniel, she was going to figure out how to – she loved him that much, too.  A couple of months before our wedding, Mimim was on a trip with her sisters.  She began to experience some dizziness when she got home and after a trip to the hospital and many tests it was discovered that she had a brain tumor.  She was able to be a part of our wedding and the start of our life together.  In December of 2004 she had surgery to remove the tumor and had a steady recovery and was able to come home and visit with family and friends.  And then in March of 2005 we found ourselves gathered around her hospital bed as the machines were turned off. 

But she wasn’t really gone. 

She lives through those that loved her and knew her. My daughter told me just this morning that Mimim was one of the first people that she wants to meet in Heaven because she feels like she already knows her by heart.  I think of her daily and pray that my love for friends and family comes close to the love that she showed us so boldly.

Mimim was a true, noble, and giving woman. And I am so thankful that I was one of the lucky ones that directly experienced the depth of her love and kindness. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Loving, Losing, Living... and Being "Enough"

Look!!  Finally a post from Mom!!
I have in me this need to write. Writing helps me sift through my experiences and make sense of them when they are senseless.  When life is in disorder and chaos all around, writing brings me back to perspective and gives me space enough to see things for what they are.

I haven't been able to write in awhile because the chaos and disorder that has been engulfing me has been overwhelming.

And completely beyond my control.

I look around me and see people going through things that are tough. And hard. And painful.  I admire the strength that I see in my friends that have dealt with pain and disease and loss so gracefully and with such determination and focus. What amazing strength.

I am nowhere near that strong. 

I may seem to have it together. Or maybe I don't.  I don't know how others perceive me, but I do know that until this summer I thought I could handle anything with grace and wisdom.

I can't. 

I have a beautiful family. My husband loves me with a strength that I never imagined.  He makes me feel cherished and needed and strong.  My two children are healthy and amazing. They help give my life purpose and meaning and depth like I never understood before they came along.

My little bump.
And this spring we found out we were going to have another baby.

I was shocked. We had planned everything up to that point.  I'm a planner. Three children wasn't part of MY plan.  Three children was more than I thought I could handle. It took some time for the idea of a new baby to excite me. When we went in for our first ultrasound I was still dealing with a bit of shock. 

And then I heard it.  And saw it.  A little heartbeat. A strong little heartbeat. And my eyes met those of my wonderful husband and all was right with the world.  This little life was a blessing. And we would be fine and we would love this new baby just as we love Emalee and Eston. 

We tossed around names.  And told our children. And everyone else.  I couldn't hide it for long - the third pregnancy is quite tough to hide. I started to show very early and bought new maternity clothes.  I looked for a "first outfit"... but we had decided not to find out whether or not we had a boy or a girl and nothing seemed quite right.  Nothing was cute enough.  

I went in for my 12 week appointment alone because it was just a routine appointment.  I knew that I would probably get to hear the baby's heartbeat again, but everything else was fine.  No need for Daniel to come along.  I felt great.  I even remarked to someone the week before that I "didn't even feel pregnant". 

Then it happened.  The doctor couldn't find the heartbeat.  To ease my mind, he rolled in the ultrasound machine since it was a bit early and sometimes hard to find.  I still thought everything was OK.  And then I didn't.  When we saw the baby I knew.  Our baby was gone. Just gone.  And I never had a clue. And I hated myself for it.  How could I not know something was wrong?  How could I not know that the life growing inside of me had stopped. 

How could I?

That was in late June.  It is now almost October and my emotions are still so raw. And my body is still not back to normal.  And I am so sad. And I am still struggling with life without this baby I never realized I wanted.  Until it was too late. 

Life is hard. And life is wonderful.  And life doesn't make sense.

I am grateful and angry at the same time.  I am all over the place with how I feel.  I feel incredibly inadequate and then I feel like super-mom.  I am a mess.  I deal with the sense that there is not enough of "me" to go around.  How can I deal with what happened this summer and still be present enough to give my family what they need for each day?  How can I love my children enough?  How can I be the wife that my husband deserves?  How can I be enough for everyone?

I can't on my own.
God has this.

I haven't mentioned God at all in all of this. He is how I have been able to cope.  He is the only reason I have been able to get out of bed each day and carry on.  He has carried me.  He has sustained me.  He has held me. 

He doesn't tell me that things like this just happen.
He doesn't tell me that this is common.
He doesn't tell me that this wasn't a real baby yet. 
He doesn't tell me that I should be happy to have two healthy children.
He doesn't tell me that I will be fine one day.
He doesn't tell me how I should feel.

He is.
He is my strength.
He is my healer.
He is my comfort.
He is forgiveness.
He is grace.

He is enough. 

On my own I will never be enough. On my own I lack the strength and the patience and the grace for each day.  On my own I am on my own. 

I am so glad that I am not on my own. 

I am so glad that I am a child of God.