I dreamed of death

Two nights ago I dreamed that death was a figure sitting in a canoe in the middle of a quiet lake. It was shadowy and mysterious. I want to say that death was ugly and aggressive and hateful, but I wasn’t afraid. We just watched watched each other, neither moving. Death was aware of me, and I was not surprised by its closeness.


I received distressing news yesterday. The steroids have not worked to put the Churg-Strauss into remission in more than a year. My eosinophils continue to be elevated, and my labs have started to show some damage to my liver. The treatment has become a liability.

We are switching tactics, becoming more aggressive. I am going to start methotrexate in combination with the hated Prednisone. I can hardly wrap my mind around the idea of ingesting poison to make myself well.


I feel that I should be reeling, but instead I am looking out across the lake - curious.


I see the sun rising and I marvel at the beauty of God’s creativity. I delight in the warmth and crispness of a new day. I have always wondered if God set the sunrise in motion unattended, or whether He joyfully paints the sky with brilliant color each morning.


Either way, I can sense His pleasure with what He has created.


I sometimes worry about my own smallness. I am not destined to be great. Both the world and the church have laughed at my desire to be more than completely ordinary. All my life I have been put in my place by neglect, abuse, disinterest, manipulation, and fear.


And yet, He adores me. He may have set nature in motion and left it to cycle and recycle, but not me. His Word speaks to me. He is in my heart and mind correcting me, rebuking me, comforting me, and transforming me.


Created in His image, and conformed to His likeness.


Disease may take my life, but it can only deliver me utterly into His arms. Fear may threaten to overwhelm me, but I trust Him.


Psalm 112


Penpals

Throughout my childhood my father was in the Army, and so were all my friend's fathers too. That combined with ever-changing economics led to a lot of moving around. I often felt my heart was strewn out across the world wondering what had happened to so and so, curious if I was missed. My mother's advice was always to write whichever friend was on my mind. She's always been a master at long-distance relationships, and never lets go of a friend. For the most part, I tend to be a love the one you're with type.

I have made so many friends over the years and across the continents and states that I feel I could write a book about the art and grace and necessity of making friends. And yet ... I am so deeply envious of the experience of living in just one place, knowing a person from year to year, and them knowing me too. Sustaining friendship.

There are a few friends I've never forgotten, a family member here and there who I've managed to keep close to my heart through the art of letter writing - the handwritten type. The type that says I purposed to communicate with just you. My hand hurts a bit because I felt the need to stop and share a part of my life with you. I just wanted you to know that I was thinking of you, and I cared. My grandmother and I shared correspondence until the week she passed away. It meant intimacy and love to me.

A friend recently invited Sofie to join a penpal group with her son, and today she received her first mail. She was so joyful when she saw her name on the letters. It reminded me of the letters I would receive back in the mail, the anticipation and delight of tearing it open and peering into someone else's heart and mind for a moment.


I dearly hope we can provide a life for her with lasting friendships and closeness to family. Most of all, I'd like her to know God and find the human need for being known and loved fulfilled.

I want to share her first letter with you. It was typed by me (except her name), but is entirely her own words.

"Hola A.,


I'm talking to you in Spanish. It's a different language.


Thank you for your letter. I am going to type my name. It is Sofie. I am four-years-old. I have a brother, Andrew, who likes to play everyday. He is one-year-old.


I like Dora, Tico Squirrel, Isa Iguana, and Boots so much. Have you ever seen Dora? Do you have Netflix on your computer or no? My mom lets me watch Dora on her computer sometimes.


I want you to see a penguin wallowing in a bad mood. I want you to see an octopus dancing on your foot with all 8 octopus feet. Did that crack you up?


I like your drawing so much. One side looks like a swimming pool with people about to jump in. I hope they have underwear.


I love to color and play outside too, especially golf. I like my new croquet set my mom bought me at a garage sale. You need to put the giraffe in the ground, and hit the ball through the giraffes legs, and then you win. Garage sales are very very hot, but daddy will give you money for them and not for stores.


Thank you for sending your picture. You and C. look very handsome. Girls aren’t handsome you know.


Do you count stars at night? It helps me go to sleep.


That’s a lot of words.


Adios and Matios,


Sofie"


Isn't she charming? :)

After helping her write letters, and draw pictures this morning I was inspired to look up my dearest childhood penpal on FB, and I found her! I can't wait for her to see my friend request. I have an obnoxious cassette we recorded of ourselves singing (hardly), and me bossing her endlessly. Where does Sofie get it from?

I'm so happy the internet makes the world seem smaller and friends closer.

Love to you all, Dee2

Worst Momma Day Ever

Let me start off by saying I am not comparing myself to those moms that abuse, abandon, or neglect their children. I mean the rest of us. Those that love our kids so much it hurts. They bring us sunshine, fulfillment, and purpose. We find it hard not to bring them up in every conversation. We’re sure our child is the most clever, athletic, charming, beautiful child that ever lived. We put our own needs aside to serve, discipline, and nurture our children. I am that kind of mother.

And yet, today I failed: myself and my child.

I have some excuses. You may even sympathize. I had already folded so many loads of laundry I’d lost count except that I knew there were at least a dozen dryer sheets left to be gathered off the living room floor. I was standing in the bathroom mopping up a puddle of urine left by a four-year-old that likes to wait until the last possible second to run to the bathroom, and then some. My one-year-old was screeching and scratching my ankles because he was overtired and hurting from the two teeth pushing through his gums. I’d spent the day redirecting, supervising time-out, spanking, and clinging to the patience that seemed determined to slip through my grasp. I could feel the mounting stress of a to-do list that never ends, and no sign of rest on the horizon. A few immature and rude comments from my mostly wonderful husband put me over the edge.

I’d had it. I was sweaty, smelly like the dust and dirt and grease I’d scrubbed from chairs and cabinets and floors, and as exhausted as the baby rubbing his eyes and pulling his hair now hanging off my hip.

Wearily, I announced “I AM LEAVING. I need a break.”

From the other room I could hear the husband ask (what seemed antagonistically to my overtired brain) “Ha. When do you plan to get back to all this?”

So I grumbled, “how about never,” grabbed my purse, and walked outside. I got as far as the stairs out front, and sat down dreaming of a quiet hotel room that I didn’t clean, a nice meal at a restaurant that I didn’t cook, and maybe a novel: one that didn’t pop-up, sing songs, or come with colorful pictures.

What I didn’t know was my sweet tender-hearted four-year-old had heard me grumble. She was sitting in the window with the weight of the world on her shoulders watching to see if I would come back inside.

Taking just enough time to gather my sanity, maybe four minutes, I slipped back inside mentally re-prioritizing my to-do list. I’d just decided the baby needed me most when my four-year-old came around the corner weeping. When I asked her to sit down and tell me what was wrong, she could barely choke out the words “you said you were never coming back. I prayed Jesus would send you home. I am so sad. My heart is slipping away.”

Sigh. Worst Momma Day Ever. It doesn’t get much worse than shaking the foundation of trust and security in your little one.

I pulled her on my lap, and told her how sorry I was. Cuddling, we had a long talk about sin and mommy learning to control her mouth. (Ouch.) The baby crawled over and fell fitfully asleep on my lap. We just sat in the hallway, and set to right our seemingly out-of-control world piece by piece, prayer by prayer.

I couldn’t bear to let her out of my sight the rest of the day, and I have a feeling she felt the same way. When I put her to bed tonight, I had to sit in the hallway and talk to God. I feel this deep hurt wondering if this will be one of the memories that will stick out in her mind instead of all the fun and normalcy of our daily lives.

I am still trying to wrap my mind around the enormity of being a mama. I can tell I am going to need a lot more grace both in giving out and for myself. I can’t promise to stop caring about a messy house and the frustrating repetitive tasks of mothering little people; but I do intend to take a break before my self-control snaps under the weight of chores. Next time I will bite my tongue off before I use it as a weapon of sarcasm and stress. I will sit down and make sure my kids, friends, and husband know that I am human and I too have limits and needs. I will rest.

"Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives sleep to his beloved." (Psalm 127:1-2)

"In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength." (Isaiah 30:15)