Sunday, October 18, 2009

Stopping to Smell the Weeds

Have you ever had one of those seasons in life where you feel like you are constantly getting bad news? These past few weeks have been rough on me, to be perfectly honest. We got bad news concerning our seemingly eternal quest to buy a house, bad news regarding my health (nothing serious, but needing attention and time for another procedure and recovery). Ivan is travelling so much, and it is really beginning to take a toll on me. Of course, the sleep deprivation that comes with being the parent of a newborn magnifies all of my problems, making them seem so much bigger than they truly are.
Then on Friday, I was getting the kids out of the car, and I had the baby carrier in one hand, shopping bags in another, and I was trying to keep Malia moving toward the house ahead of me (in the rain). She bent down at a crack in the sidewalk where there were weeds growing. She sniffed them and said, "These pretty flowers smell beautiful, Mommy." My initial instinct was to say, "Are you kidding me? It's raining, my hands are full, your brother is screaming because he is hungry...get up and get in the house!" Fortunately, I surpressed my initial feelings and said, "They do? WOW! They are certainly beautiful!" She smiled and we kept creeping s-l-o-w-l-y toward the house.
After I got everyone fed and down for a nap, I was still thinking about what Malia said. It seems so silly to even think that it was possible for weeds to smell good, but I thought it was interesting that the two of us had totally different perspectives on the same thing. I saw weeds that needed to be pulled. I saw a child who was keeping me from getting in the house to get on with my list of things I needed to get done. Malia simply saw "pretty flowers" that smelled good. And she took the time to stop and smell them.
It is no secret that I tend to be the pessimist in our family and Ivan is the eternal optimist. I don't like this about myself, but I tend to focus on what is wrong with any given situation. I am working on changing my way of thinking, but it is a rough thing to try to change after being used to thinking this way for as long as I can remember. But once I got some alone time, I thought, 'OK, here are the things bothering me: the housing situation, my health issues, and Ivan's constant travelling. I am going to sit here and think of a positive thing about each of these issues.' And you know what? It wasn't too difficult. Housing? We are so blessed to have the house we are renting. We are not stuck upside down on a mortgage like so many right now. We are not losing a house to foreclosure. If something breaks on this house right now, it is not up to us to fix it. Would I like for us to buy our own house? Of course, but this isn't all that bad. I brought both of my children home from the hospital into this house. Although my name is not on the deed, it will always be a special house for me.
Next, my health. My health issues are so teeny tiny compared to so many others. I am so blessed to have excellent health insurance so that these can be taken care of. My last hospital stay totalled $45,000, and we did not have to pay a penny of it. This next procedure should take care of the whole issue and then I will be back to pain-free!
Finally, Ivan's job: I have to admit that this was a little harder to find a good side to, because I could always follow any statement with "but..." Such as, "At least he has a job, BUT I sure wish he had one where he didn't travel so much." However, with this new attitude-in-progress, I am leaving off the "buts" and standing firm in gratefulness. We are blessed that Ivan has a job in this economy. We are even more blessed that I am able to stay at home with my kids. And although it is really rough when he is gone, it makes us truly appreciate our time together when he's home.
So there is the lesson that Malia taught me this week. Although life isn't always beautiful flowers, it is possible to find the beauty, even in the weeds.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


As I sat at my computer checking email today, I was listening to a movie my husband had on the TV. It was the Ashley Judd movie "Double Jeopardy." I have seen this movie multiple times, but I had not seen it since becoming a mother. Pre-motherhood, I thought that the big tragedy in this movie was that this woman was framed for the murder of her husband, only to find out from prison that he wasn't really dead. Since becoming a mother, I have decided that the true tragedy is that this woman had to live separated from her young son, even though she had done nothing wrong. There was a scene where the woman taking care of her son brings him to visit her in prison and as he sings his ABCs to her (which he had just learned), they place their hands on the glass, trying to touch each other with this clear barricade blocking them. Pre-motherhood? "Oh, that's too bad." Post-motherhood? Sob city. This whole new vulnerable place opened up in my heart when I gave birth, and that place cannot imagine the unfathomable. What on earth would I do if I were kept from my kids? I cannot even wrap my brain around this at all. As I'm thinking about this and shuddering, I overhear Ashley Judd's character say to a fellow prisoner, "They say that even if a baby is separated from his mother at birth, he still recognizes her voice years later. Do you think that's true?" She was worried that after she got out of prison, her own son wouldn't know her. Again - I can't even go there in my head. But that got me thinking even further. If I cannot handle even the mere thought of being separated from my kids, how much more does it pain God to be separated from His? That being said, do you think that even if they have never really known Him before, once they hear His voice, do they recognize it? The answer is right there in the Bible: "My sheep hear My voice and they know Me." As I think about this scripture, I get a visual picture of my 5-week-old son when he's hungry. No matter who is holding him, when he is hungry, he roots around, searching to be fed. Inevitably, whoever holds an infant who is breastfed will say, "Sorry, buddy, I can't help you," or, "I can't do anything for you, little guy," and the baby will cry and cry until he gets to his mother. Once he hears Mommy, he calms right down because he knows that he is about to be fed. Perhaps those lost children of God are just rooting, searching to be fed. They may initially spend time with those who can't do anything for them before finally getting to the One who can fill them up. I pray that, even as a housewife and mother, I can help direct some of those lost children to the best parent there is.