Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Gift of Experience

Christmas is coming.

I love this season for the magic it brings. Twinkling lights, Rosie Thomas Christmas music, the smell of a fresh turkish fur, chilly weather, decorations, & the spirit of intention; that's what I see in the still small anticipatory moments. I fear however, like every month, the time ushers past me too quickly and I'm caught up in the navigation of daily life with the added holiday agenda.

Already I am dreaming of Christmas morning and seeing the faces of some of those I love opening up presents. I have spent possibly too much time considering just what to wrap up for them before purchasing. Then there's the worry that my children will MISS the reason of the season: Jesus. That I will miss JESUS in the season!

Yesterday, in an epic toy explosion we call KK, we had the chance to examine every single toy we own strewn out around the living room. Wide eyed, my husband and I stared at each other: this is NOT what we want!

I shared, "Sweetie, I really WANT to ask people NOT to get our children toys for Christmas," and he acquiesced.

Now before you think I'm a horrible mother trying to strip the magic of Santa's delivery or rob grandparents of their ability to love long distance, it's NOT that I want to rob my children, it's quite the opposite, I want to GIVE to my children. I am not against the idea of gifting (after all, it's MY very own love language. I LOVE gift giving). What I want though for my children is the gift of experience.

I know, Skylanders are an experience (a technologically odd one but an experience none the less), blocks expand the mind, remote helicopters are fun (for dad), & nerf guns are fabulous but they all lose their magic. Each toy that was so highly coveted soon becomes a thing of the past and only remembered if in generations to come they are resurrected again, like Ninja Turtles or Strawberry Shortcake. What takes longer to dissipate, what builds bonds, what grows relationships is the gift of experience.

From my childhood, what I cherish most now is the gift my grandma gave of The Candy Cane Tree. Before she arrived at our house, she'd hang a barren tree with dozens of candy canes. All three of us would line up at the end of the street and at the word GO would race down and strip the tree of it's new peppermint leaves and see who won the "who got the most!" contest. I remember all of the clothes we would get and between cousins our eyes would meet and silently say, "I can't wait to return this with you on our after-Christmas shopping trip!" I LOVE the annual gift my Aunt and Uncle gave us of family bowling WITH team shirts. And of course, there is always the gift of Christmas Dinner at the castle. Gifts of love, time, & laughter that just STICK in my heart like cinnamon roll frosting on my fingers.

I don't want my children to relive my experience and the magic it brought me. I want them to have their own. I want them to be sown into with opportunity: college support, swimming lessons, a chance to go to the movie theater, an art class, a pottery painting hour, a date for a shake at Sonic, a trip to Dutch Brothers for a hot chocolate. Some of these experiences are less than $5 and give the gift of living life outside of our own financial ability to provide or sustain.

The humbling part is that I realize in writing this that my wish to dictate what is given to my children is selfish. I want to orchestrate the love that is sent to them, given to them, doted upon them to fit within my parenting dreams.

In this moment, I stare at the sea of legos, the ninja turtle figurines, and the endless supply of hot wheels and wonder, is this not relational experience too between brothers? Perhaps I am off base. The heart of this rant, however, is my acknowledgement that time is invaluable and what an amazing opportunity to gift others in our lives with small gifts to encourage relationship. At the very epicenter of my heart is the desire to spend less time frustrated at the chaos of cleaning & more time GIVING LIFE to my family in the art of making memories.

{Looking for ideas on how to give non-toy gifts?? Check out this post!}

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Recovering from Recovery

We have come through to the other side of Kheler's post surgical recovery! 

We made it! 

It wasn't like we expected, yet we didn't actually know what to expect.

It was hard

You know how doctors give you those "there's a 10% chance x, y, & z could happen" statistics and you think, "Well, THOSE are great odds!"? 

Well, they ARE good odds, but we weren't the 90%, we were the 10%. 

I circled my emotional drain multiple times a day. 

Each morning I started my day on my 1/8' of the bed with the verbal proclamation, "I can't do this!" and I meant it. It wasn't a hypothetical statement, it was one I believed in my core. 

It turns out, we have a VERY strong willed, determined, and stubborn son. All three years of him convinced us that he will become a doesn't-take-dookie Navy Seal Commander. That kid had my husband and I, two people on the same team, convinced the other was an under cover spy working for the enemy. 

We had a son who had become a popsciletarian, anti-beverage, and could be a poster child for DARE...he WOULD NOT take the drugs! I mean, bravo to him, I hope it stays that way, but in this particular season, we were practically {no, we actually were} pinning him down, blowing air up his nostrils to get him to open his mouth long enough to super-soak his throat with hydrocodone only to watch him volcanically erupt it back in our direction. Did you get winded by the ridiculous length of that sentence? It was worse in real life.

In all of it's empty, ugly, exhausting, heart breaking misery though, there was life being planted for us. 

The only comparison I have now for what we went through and now being on the other side is that it was like depression. When you are depressed, truly, dark hole, desolate depressed, you can't even fathom what a smile feels like or remember what happiness FEELS like. People TELL you you will feel it again, but the numbness has spread too deep. 

This was like that. I KNEW it was temporary, but I COULD NOT see the light. I could NOT get on my knees and pray...I could only beg. My prayers became like tick marks on a prison wall, "Just make it stop. Make.It.Stop!" I KNEW there was an ending, but I didn't see how we were going to feel normal again. And in ALL of that, I felt greedy for taking up air space with God. 

Who was I to be praying for a fever, a bleeding throat, a child who was fighting me to get better when there are others with so much more persistent pain? 

I found myself void of the reality that this inconsequential moment in my life MATTERED to Him.

But that's where He worked. 

He climbed in the holes others were keeping Him FOR me. 

He lived in my neighbor who lovingly shared her empathy and was my guide through this. He used her as the echo reminding me, "You're not alone!"

He breathed through my best friend who sat on the other end of the phone letting me be angry and telling me, "I'm sorry," which was exactly what I needed...just to vent.

He lifted me up through my girl friends as we tri-talked via group chat in facebook. When I went silent, they said, "Get real with us!"

He hugged me & spread His covering over me through the servants heart of a friend who put together a meal train, made treat and present deliveries and showed up at the ER the second time Kheler had to go in.

He stared me in the face each time I opened my door and found a balloon, stuffed animal, gift, flowers or a note from a complete stranger wishing us well.

My friend Carin wrote the most beautiful blog & included a bit about our walk through this recovery. She wrote, "I felt like walking behind her that week with a sign pointing at her that read 'BE NICE! She hasn't slept in a week and her baby boy is really really sick. Buy her a coffee.'" And it made me CLING to the reality that we are LOVED, we are PROVIDED for, we MATTER. It makes me want to LOVE out harder, more compassionately, more sacrificially, more intentionally than ever.

It was dark. It is light again. We each have our seasons where we need someone behind us with a sign. Who are you holding the sign for right now? Who do you need to hold a sign for? Are you the one who needs the sign? 

Know this, the sun always shines again.