Again

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Again, again! That’s her giddy plea as we play Ride a Little Horsie on my knees over and over.  I wonder how she can get such joy out of it the 37th time as she does the 1st time, but she does.  Even then I knew that all too soon those days would be over, and they are.  My youngest girl is 8 now and although she still fits (somewhat) in my lap and would probably enjoy a nice round of Horsie, it’s just not the same as it was when she was 2.

Repetition can go both ways, you know.  “You’re pregnant!”  Again – yay!  “I’m sorry, you’ve lost the baby.” Again – silent tears.  But just because something happens over and over doesn’t mean it always ends the same way.  Two of those pregnancies ended in the joyful births of two of my daughters.  Three of them ended in miscarriage, sadly. 

Again can be an opportunity, the chance to do things differently.  If you’re not happy with how you did something, you can do it again.  Again means there doesn’t necessarily have to be an end.

And so now on my lap is a different little girl, born not of my own body but my oldest girl’s, and I love her more than I ever thought possible. We play Ride a Little Horsie, over and over and over, this sweet child and I.  “Again,” she says, “again!”  And so we play again and again and again because as I know all too well, these days with her won’t last.  But maybe one day she will play this game again with her own children. 

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Cherished

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So many things I cherish are easy to explain like my husband and children, but some are a little mysterious.

On my bookshelf in the bedroom like a blond Buddha rests a small vinyl doll, about 5 inches tall.  Her eyes are closed as if she’s laughing, and her mouth is spread wide in a smile that makes no mistake of her general mood.  I have fished this little doll out of the trash can numerous times because no one else seems to understand why she’s so special.  Here’s why:

When I look at that doll, I am transported back to the summer between 3rd and 4th grades.  On a trip to stay with my Dad that summer (my parents were divorced), I took a walk with my Mamaw (yes, this is a country girl talking to you here) to the local Kmart.  Neither side of my family had much money growing up so this must have been trip for essentials, and we walked because we didn’t have access to a car just then.  It was hot and sunny (I remember it like it was yesterday) and I was not enjoying the walk very much.  While we were at the store we saw a display of small dolls in various hair/skin/eye colorations and different facial expressions.  I asked my Mamaw if I could have one and she said yes, which tells me they must have been very inexpensive.  She picked up this one in the green dress, with its eyes closed in laughter, because she said it looked like me.  I’ve kept that doll ever since.  Maybe the fact that I’ve had it so long makes it more cherished, but its main value is that it reminds me that my Mamaw cherished ME and saw me as a happy, smiling child.

My Mamaw went to see Jesus back in 1992 but I’m happy to say that the laughing little girl she saw in me still lives on.

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(Am I the only one who thought of the song, “Cherish” when I read today’s prompt?)

Solo

In the midst of a crowd, she’s alone.  The gym is full of parents, students and other assorted spectators, and yet she’s by herself.  Despite being seated next to her teammates, you can almost see the loneliness shimmering around her like sound waves.  The players on her bench sit bunched up against each other, their ponytails swinging as they whisper to each other and shout encouragement to the players on the gym floor, but no one speaks to her and there’s a solid two feet of empty space between her the nearest teammate.  She scrunches over as if to hide herself (a difficult prospect for a girl who stands 6’2″).   I ache for this girl and I so wish I knew a way to comfort her.  I think of the things I would say to her if I could:

I’d love to tell her that high school is NOT what the rest of life is like.  Can I get an Amen?

I’d love to tell her that once high school is over, you are no longer limited by the social group you were (or weren’t) in.

I’d love to tell her that being set apart now does not mean that she will be apart forever.

I’d tell her about my recent high school reunion where Brain and Jock, Cheerleader and Nerd all hugged and shared stories and made plans to keep in touch.  For real.  And they’re doing it.

I’d tell her that she MATTERS, that her feelings are real and they count, but that she doesn’t have to be ruled by them.

I’d remind her that she is a talented artist with an incredibly bright future, and that one day I believe people will pay large amounts of money just to own a piece of her work.

I’d tell her that while right now what happens at school is her entire universe, once she graduates her high school life will get smaller and smaller in the rear view mirror until it’s just a blur.  That doesn’t mean that the emotional toll it can take on a young girl will just disappear into thin air, but it matters less and less as time goes by.

I’d describe my own high school experience and the times I felt invisible.  And I’d challenge her to see if she can guess what “group” I was part of in high school. (I’ll give you a hint:  I wasn’t a cheerleader)

I would tell her that when she gets to college in a couple of years, there will be more people around here who can appreciate the beauty she is, and the talent she possesses, and the spark of her personality – people who are not limited to the her they knew in high school.

I would tell her not to put too much importance in the opinions of other kids her age, because what do 16-year-olds know of the world?  God’s opinion of her is that she is beautiful and loved, and if she had been the only person on earth, He still would have sacrificed His son for her.

Naturally, one of the reasons I feel so bad for this young girl is that I’ve stood in her place.  Most of us have, at one time or other.  I don’t know what makes the world of teenagers so dog-eat-dog but it’s tough on those kids who are a little more tenderhearted than their peers.  I have one of those and she is almost 12, and it keeps me up at night sometimes trying to figure out the best way to shield her against those inevitable hurts, and there’s really no way to do it.  She’s going to get bruised and maybe even scarred, but I’m going to be praying for her every day.  And I’ll be praying for ME, for the wisdom I’m going to need to guide her into adulthood.  And for the restraint to keep me from going all crazy-Mama on any mean girls who mess with my sweet girl.

Dive

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I couldn’t have told you exactly how I came to be standing at the top of the highest diving board at the public swimming pool.  It probably had to do with a dare (exactly the kind of thing you tell your kids NOT to do).  However I got there, it was abundantly clear that there was nowhere to go but down, and it would have to be into the water because my youthful pride would not allow me to go back down the ladder.  It was 1977 and I was 12 years old.  I was wearing my yellow swimdress, chosen because it could hide a multitude of body flaws, not for its sleekness and ability to stay in place when its wearer hits the water’s surface at a high rate of speed. 

Somehow I willed myself to step off that diving board and let me tell you, it seemed like forever before I hit the water, or should I say the water hit me?  Who knew the water could spank like that?  Down, down, down I went, as I mentally checked myself over to make sure all body parts were there and accounted for.  They were, and some of them were screaming with embarrassment because they were exposed where they should have been covered.  Still drifting down, I rearranged my swimsuit to a more modest location, as I pondered the best way to get back to the surface.  I could float and eventually I’d get there, but I’d get there faster if I put some effort into it.  Kicking and paddling, I rose to the surface, flailed my way to the ladder at the side of the pool and climbed out. 

I’m sure there’s a lesson in there somewhere.  Don’t fall for dares?  Wear tougher swimwear if you’re going to go off the high dive?  But frankly, this is the first thing I thought of when I read today’s prompt.  🙂 

Less

I’ve been aware of the One Word 365 philosophy for a couple of years now but have never felt compelled to take part in it myself.  The idea is that you choose (usually with some spiritual direction) one word to concentrate on for the whole year, in place of a list of resolutions that will most likely be broken the first time the wind blows the wrong way.  I don’t like resolutions myself – I’m a rebel at heart and the idea that I have to keep to a set of self-imposed limitations…well, it makes me want to dig in my heels and rebel.  But a word that I can meditate on for the next 12 months and maybe (hopefully) see some life change come from it, that I can do.

So I’ve been reading on Twitter (#oneword365) about the words that others are choosing and there’s a word that keeps popping up in my head.  It’s pretty vague and could be interpreted in quite a few ways but it is the one that persists.  Less.

As in less of me and more of Him.  Less of the fluffy and inconsequential.  Less clutter, both physically in my home and mentally crowding my brain.  2013 feels like it will be a year of whittling down my life to the basics – the things that really matter.  I can already see my chosen word at work in my life.  I had to clean out my laundry room today due to a washing machine malfunction, and in the process I had to empty my backup pantry (I’m an occasional couponer so I tend to stock up when I find a good deal).  As I pulled the jars and cans off the shelf I just kept thinking about how we could get along with LESS of this stuff. 

So…less:  smaller in size, amount or degree; lower in consideration, rank, or importance.  This could be an exercise in reduction all the way around.  Less junk so I can see Him more clearly. 

It’s already causing me to examine my online commitments.  I can’t possibly be involved with every single group of Christ-following Mom bloggers, so I’m going to have to choose.  I decided to do the scripture memorization project with Living Proof, so I won’t be able to memorize Romans along with Ann Voskamp (1000 gifts), even though both are worthy endeavors.  I feel the need to do less things, so I can do them well.  In the past I’ve had a sort of shotgun approach to life – go off in all directions and maybe you’ll hit the target – but maybe it’s time to narrow my focus so I’ll have a better chance of hitting the target I *want* to hit.

I look forward with anticipation (and trepidation!) to seeing where God wants me to apply “less” in 2013.

Opportunity

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It’s there, and then it’s gone.  Just when I think I’ve carved out 5, 10, 15 minutes of me-time to do something a little bit constructive, I look up and the opportunity has passed me by before I even got a chance to make something of it.  And so I get up from my me-haven to wipe a nose, make a sandwich, break up a sister-fight.  (Even while I was writing *this* I had to stop for a moment and take care of some kid business)

My shoulders sag at the thought of the opportunity lost.  What if this was THE time that I was actually going to get started on something important?  What if the post I didn’t write in those moments was the one post that somebody somewhere needed to read?  The thoughts chase each other around my brain like my cat chases its tail sometimes.

But then…. I look up and realize that it’s quiet in the house.  The children are busy playing nicely with each other.  Nothing is demanding my attention at this time.  And I realize that some opportunities don’t just knock once – they can come back again and again.  If you’re not home or available, it’s not always the end of the world.  There will be another opportunity.  That’s what keeps me going, because if I had to depend on creatively striking during that one elusive open opportunity, I would be overwhelmed with the importance of it all.  But as it is, I know that even if I can’t get to the computer I can make a note on my phone to remind me of the train of thought I was riding.  And the next time the opportunity arises, I’ll be ready.

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