Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My "to-do" list

I feel like I need a fresh start. Like I'm drowning in logistics and I need it all to stop so that I can start all over again -- new and unspoiled. So how do I do this? I mean, there's laundry and dishes to be done, bills to pay, diapers to change, meals to make, meals to make for others, rooms to clean, groceries to buy, library books to bring back/find, bills to pay, work to go to, CEU’s to get, bills to pay, friends to make, friends to keep, children to love and hold and play with, husbands (well, really just one) to love and spend time with, other family to call and keep in touch with, and.....God.

I feel like if this list could start with the last word first, then I would be okay. Why is it then that I push God aside and first try EVERYTHING on my own each and every time? The only result is failure. And then the subsequent result is me feeling utterly overwhelmed. But not because I have too much going on. I’m overwhelmed because the center of my life isn’t in place. The CENTER: From which everything else flows from. I have always had a hard time when people say “you need to put God FIRST in your life”. What does that mean? Putting Lee second? Owen and Molly third? My sister and dad forth? I don’t like ranking the people of my heart. I can’t rank them. It makes me feel like it’s just another list that I need to check off. Yup. God? Check. Lee? Check. Really? This is not how I want to live my life. I mean, I understand the premise of the idea of “putting God first”. I get it, but I just don’t like it. Instead, I would rather have God be the CENTER of my life -- from which, everything else flows out of. Yeah yeah, I know. It’s just semantics. But it’s not. If Christ is the center, then my family, my work, my many different roles...all flow out of that center. It’s just a much more appealing picture in my mind than the rigid and detached image of a list. In a list, others are competing for the "top spot". God doesn’t compete. He just is.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Why "Feeble Wings"?

Two years. I can't believe that it has been 2 years! Two years ago tomorrow my mom and cousin, Megan, came over for a "girls night". Owen was 4 months old, and Mom sat on the couch making him do the motions to pat-a-cake, and then singing "Mighty to Save" to him. We ate pizza and watched a movie. Then mom, dad, and Meg all spent the night so that my dad could get up early the next morning with Lee to help him with the balloon flight. But mom, Meg and I had other - more IMPORTANT - plans. Shopping! We got up pretty early (6am ish - on a Saturday of all things) to go to Kohl's for the early bird sale. It was wonderful. Mom LOVED to go shopping. I remember when we left the store she said something along the lines of, "Well this is a treat. I got to go clothes shopping with BOTH of my girls this year." While I was in the dressing room, Mom pushed Owen around the store showing him all sorts of things. She gave her blunt opinion on each and every garment I put on. Some of her opinions I took to heart, and others I ignored. What kind of daughter would I be if I didn't ignore her SOME of the time, right? After shopping, Momma, Meg and I went to Crackerbarrel for breakfast. My mom loved going out to breakfast. She is truly her father's daughter. That afternoon she drove Meg to meet my Aunt. She called me when she got home to tell me about her conversation with Meg during the car ride. I was doing something. Like laundry or something. And I remember wishing that she would just end the conversation already. But the conversation ended with, "Goodnight, Honey. I love you." "I love you too, Momma. G'night."

That was it.

The next morning I got the worst phone call of my life. I still remember the feeling of the wind being knocked out of me and my knees not being able to hold me anymore as I fell onto the ground. Everything was so cloudy. I heard Owen crying in his carseat -- and I wanted to go to him...but I couldn't breathe. I couldn't catch my breath. I heard someone screaming, but couldn't figure out who it was -- until I realized that my throat hurt. Lee's arms were around me and he was trying to lift me up to get into the truck.

In the truck all I could say was, "Doesn't God understand that I need my Momma? I need her! Momma..." I couldn't stop saying "Momma". It's sort of funny to look back on. I didn't call her "Momma" for too long. I started soon after I graduated high school. In my mind it was affectionate when I called her that. At first she didn't like it. But after a while, she started to sign cards with "Love, Momma", or leave a voicemail saying, "Hey Jill, it's just your Momma". I even referred to my Mother-in-law one time as my "Momma-in-law" and my mom asked me if it would be okay if I didn't call my mom-in-law "momma". That that name was too special to her to share with anyone else. I found myself just saying "momma" randomly to myself over the next weeks and months. I found it to be somewhat of a comfort for me -- and still is.

When my momma died, it was hard to imagine moving on -- breathing again. But eventually, I did. I remember something my grandmother said when I asked her if pain had lessened after losing my grandfather a year beforehand. She told me that the pain never goes away. You just get distracted from it. But once you let your mind wander back to that loved one, you find that the void that they left in your heart is still there - and always will be. It's true. Before losing mom, I would look at people who had lost a loved one and think "Oh...it's been 2 years now. They must be over it by now." But the truth is...you don't get over it. You move on from it. And the pain doesn't go away. It just gets muffled with all of the other daily duties we busy ourselves with. But one song. One phrase. One smell -- the void is back and the loss is real again.

But take heart. God is good! I can look back on that time and see God's faithfulness and provision. I mean, just look at my last day with her! What a blessing! Also, the day she died we were all (my dad, sister and her family, and me and my family)at my parents house together. The whole day was filled with shock, crying, reliving last moments, and...the occasional laughter. I know what you're thinking. LAUGHTER?? How heartless! But I don't see it as heartless. I see it as God's gift. My sister has two children, Nathaniel (4), Juliet (2). Nathaniel had just turned two when Mom died, and Juliet was only 6 weeks old. Owen was 4 months old. Yes, my mom had just died. But that didn't stop Nathaniel from saying adorable things, or giving cute looks. It didn't stop Owen from needing to be changed. It didn't stop Juliet from needing to be fed. As moms, my sister and I didn't have time to let our world stop. It HAD to keep going -- for the sake of our kiddos. I remember standing at my parent's kitchen window, looking out onto the deck that my mom loved. Suddenly I felt a little pat on my behind. I turned around to find Nathaniel patting my bum like it was an everyday occurrence. No reason. Just kept doing it. How do you not laugh at that? In that moment he warmed my heart -- and I desperately needed that. It was the first bit of evidence that it was possible to experience joy again.

If you wondered what my blog title means, then...there ya have it. Has my strength increased since August 2, 2009? Nope. I'm still the same Jill. I didn't get through my mom's death because I am strong. But because the Lord is. I want this blog to be full of hope and of blessings. I want to tell about my life -- my marriage, my children, my faith, my hurts, my joys, etc. But I want it to be peppered with the Lord's faithfulness. Because although I may have feeble wings, I can rest in the Lord's strength.

(Pay no attention to the cabbage patch doll looking pregnant lady.)