The images below are new, but some of the words are from an old Easter post from two years ago. That’s the thing about Truth. It’s always timely. Children grow and change. Babies become toddlers. Toddlers turn into preschoolers.
Your first and second baby girls grow tall and lean, and you see beautiful glimpses of the lovely ladies they’re turning into. These are sweet girls who point out where Easter eggs are hidden to each other and make your younger brother laugh, “I was never that nice during our Easter egg hunts.”
Scrawny babies with chicken legs that are welcomed into the world after weeks of anxious bed rest turn into happy pudge balls. And my-oh-my how that baby face reminds you of your husband. Those eyes belong to him.
But Truth and God – these remain constant.
This was an emotional Easter. I hadn’t broken down in a long time and in the safety and security of my family, I cracked and a wellspring of tears flowed freely. I felt silly at first. Guilty, too. Then I felt better.
Easter is always bittersweet for me if I’m honest. Reading my old post revealed I’d broken down on Holy Saturday and cried to my mama. She comforted me saying, “All will be fine.” Just like St. Julian of Norwich. “All will be well.” And it was. And it will be.
It’s just the luck of the draw, but my husband frequently has to work over Easter weekend, and I miss him. But I’m also missing something on a deeper level. People join the Church this time of year. I know of several wives whose husbands were welcomed into the Church at the Easter Vigil Mass. I am overwhelmed with joy for them, but I’m selfishly sad, too. My own faith journey is solitary. Everyone’s journey is solitary, but I don’t have a spouse walking anywhere close to me, and I thought I would when I got married nearly a decade ago. My heart aches because of this. Yet, I remind myself that nothing is impossible with God. This marriage of mine is a great blessing; it is a part of His plan to teach a stubborn control freak child of His (um, me) to trust. So trust I will.
I was tired when I arrived home last night. Two out of the four kids fell asleep on the way home from my parents’. I was able to transport them to beds without waking them. My big girl helped me unload the van. I nursed a very tired baby boy to sleep.
I tidied up around the house, wishing to make it feel homey and uncluttered for when that husband of mine (whom I really was missing) returned home from work late that night.
Then I decided to peruse the photos I’d snapped throughout the day. I hadn’t pulled out my real camera in a long time since I can capture quick shots with my phone, but this weekend I wanted to get some better closeups of the kids. I don’t have a superb eye for photography, but I was fairly happy with the results of my weekend clicking.
As I looked through the photos, the theme that came to mind was joy. Pure joy. Joy personified in my children’s smiles and happiness. That joy replaced any feelings of guilt or bittersweetness and made me grateful.
Childhood, especially when there’s chocolate buried in baskets and Easter egg hunts, is a sermon on what it means to find joy. Big, silly dogs who are always licking your baby because they think he’s their puppy help to make you joyful, too.
No, my Lent wasn’t all that great. But with Easter Sunday, we get our own Groundhog Day, a glorious do-over, a fresh start, a chance to be made anew and to walk more closely with Jesus. And isn’t our God generous? We get 40 days of preparation and penance, but we get 50 days of feasting.
The Easter season is not an ordinary time, so be extraordinary.
As I mentioned during my morning radio interview this morning with Relevant Radio, let your kids jump in those spring mud puddles. What’s a little extra dirt? Pick flowers. Read books together in your backyard. Have a picnic. Throw a blanket on the floor if it’s raining. Enjoy your children instead if just managing them.
And remember this (these are the words from an older post):
We are an Easter people.
Hope abounds. It is not a hope based on a superficial optimism that is blind to the reality of suffering in the world. Rather, it is a deep trust in God and His love for us. This is not a season for despair or worry. Easter calls us to embrace the freedom from fear, and to hold onto the life, the peace, and the joy that Jesus died to give all of us.
We are an Easter people. With the hope of Easter so close to me, it’s easy to believe. But then I return to my life. I face my trials. I see the news headlines. And I’m tempted to give in to anger or doubt or even despair.
My heart has its ups and downs. My world is frequently a wobbly one, and it’s a challenge to find my balance. My faith isn’t as steady as I’d like it to be; yet, this Easter season is a good reminder that some things never change. The only one who can rob us from the joy that comes with being a Christian is ourselves. We are sure to lose much in life – jobs, loved ones, financial security, freedoms, good health, confidence in our future happiness and in the path of our life. Then there is God. He remains. He does not shift with the wind or with our woes. He is forever. Love is forever. No one can take that away from us. I need to bury my doubt and let God and love live.
My kids are triumphant, glad to be able to proclaim, “Alleluia!” again.
That’s what Jesus gave us on that first Easter: A reason to say, “Alleluia!” again, a reason to hope, and joy that is ours for the taking even when life is downright hard.
This is what my children give me, too. A reason to hope. And joy. Lots of it.
*Stay tuned for an Easter giveaway!
Every time I sat today or walked with a bounce in my step, which is how I naturally walk all of the time, I winced in pain. That’s because there’s a big bruise that looks like an angry storm cloud on the left cheek of my bum.
It was the early evening yesterday and as is typical during that time of day, I was tired and eager to get through with the bedtime routine just so I could have some quiet time. I’d just helped my 4-year-old pick out a clean pair of panties to put on after she bathed because she insisted that she needed my help in choosing the right pair of undergarments. We were standing at the top of a long set of hardwood stairs. Thomas’s chunky thighs were wrapped around my waist. He was spouting out happy gibberish and wiggling with joy. He takes happiness to the next level. He actually sometimes laughs and cries at the same time when he’s really tired but is still trying to look on the bright side of things.
My left arm held Thomas close to me. I started to walk down the stairs when Rae asked me something. I don’t remember what. I was about to turn around and look at her when I lost my footing, slipped, and fell hard on the stairs. I watched in horror as Thomas slipped through the canyon of my arm and began to crash down the stairs. He tumbled down two stairs before I lunged forward and grabbed him and pulled his trembling body against my chest. I started sobbing and rocking back and forth, and I began to scream, “My baby! My baby!”
I was too afraid to look at him. I was sure if I looked at him, I’d see blood or a cracked-open head.
Sweet Rae said, “I’ll go get Daddy.”
She didn’t need to. He had heard my screaming and came running to me. He calmly took Thomas from me.
“Is he okay? Is he okay?” I asked. “I fell down the stairs. I dropped him. I can’t believe I dropped him.”
My husband immediately adopted his doctor persona and began carefully examining Thomas. To my surprise, he didn’t look hurt at all. There was no blood. No swelling anywhere. My husband gently prodded his head and asked me where I thought he hit. “He fell on his butt first, I think. Then he rolled over once and hit his head. I think that’s all. I don’t know though. It happened so quickly.”
I was still crying and shaking. Once my husband felt Thomas was okay, he handed him back to me. The little guy was crying as hard as I was and had broken out in a sweat but when he was back in my arms, he rested his fuzzy head against my chest and his sobbing slowed down until he was just making soft, pitiful gasps.
“My baby,” I said again and again.
My husband asked me if I was hurting. I told him my butt hurt. He took a look. “You’re going to have a huge hematoma.”
That’s the kind of language we use around here because of Dr. Dad. My kids don’t get cuts; they get lacerations. They don’t get dry skin on their scalp; they get seborrhoeic dermatitis. But he was right: I have a huge swollen purplish-black lump (AKA a HUGE hematoma) on my bottom. I have a bruised ankle as well.
I nursed him and rocked Thomas for a long time that night. We checked him periodically to make sure he wasn’t lethargic. He woke up several times in the night as is his custom. I was very grateful for his wakefulness last night and didn’t care how groggy I’d feel come morning.
My husband texted me to see how I was feeling today. I told him I was sore, but so grateful that I was the only one bruised. Thomas was his happy self all day. He somehow survived rolling down two hard stairs with not so much as a scratch.
Last night when I’d finally stopped shaking, I said to my husband, “In an instant with one misstep, I could have ruined my life.”
One of my closest friends is a pediatric emergency medicine doctor, and I’ve heard the stories of fractured skulls, sobbing parents whose lives would forever be changed because of some freak accident.
I honestly thought my baby boy was going to be severely injured. My sobs and hysterics surprised me. The sick feeling in my gut. It was awful.
That night I promised that I’d never take my kids for granted. I would never make things or worldly pursuits more important than my children. I wouldn’t sweat the small stuff like being late to soccer practice. I’d focus only on my relationship with my kids, husband, family, friends, and God. Of course, the morning started out all wrong. I didn’t pray first thing. One of my children was acting like a complete negatron, and I was too abrasive with her. Then another child elbowed me right on my sore bum, which hurts even when my clothes shifts on it. Yet, when I felt that sharp twinge of pain, I relived the moment, the terror, but I also once again experienced the gratitude that my baby was going to be fine, that my life as exhausting as it can be sometimes was unchanged.
I apologized to my children, and I began to weep. The tears started flowing instantly, and they wouldn’t stop. “Do you know how much I love you?”
Their little eyes widened. They nodded. Thomas squealed, bubbling over with happiness just at his mere existence. We all looked at his chunky body vibrating with pure delight, and we started to laugh.
When I stopped laughing through my tears, I said aloud, “Nothing else matters.”
The room grew uncharacteristically quiet. My children nodded. They understood.
Life has been a little unlucky around here lately. We’re just not finding our groove, and lots of little things seem to be going wrong. We ordered tadpoles, for instance, to begin our spring study on metamorphosis, and our two little guys arrived limp and completely lifeless. The girls had waited months for them and were so disappointed by their lot in life. Those poor tadpoles were the real unlucky ones.
I always like to incorporate studies about metamorphosis during Lent. It just seems fitting since we’re all trying to work toward being new creations during these 40 days of soul pruning. But what does it say when there was not even a chance for transformation? Maybe I shouldn’t use feeble polliwogs to teach spiritual lessons.
Then a certain little someone who is always fidgeting with everyone else’s stuff broke my super cool, booklight-equipped Kindle case for the second, stinkin’ time. (I should be thankful I even own a Kindle.)
Oh, and yesterday we could not find my keys to the van (they usually are hanging on a set of hooks we have in a hallway), and the spare set was, of course, in my husband’s car. Madeline had dress rehearsal for a play today in which she makes her debut as Pocahontas. I called my husband in a panic (I very rarely call him at work). He didn’t answer. It turns out he was in middle of a procedure. Once he got my message, he thankfully said he could sneak away since we live so close, so he quickly swung by to rescue his ladies (and little man). We ended up being about 30 minutes late to rehearsals. Sigh.
Aside from untimely tadpole deaths, broken Kindle cases, MIA keys, and a few other random bad breaks (not of the bone variety, thank goodness), sleep has been elusive. The night Thomas actually slept for seven solid hours straight (cue angels singing), Mary Elizabeth decided to throw a tantrum for no reason whatsoever during his sleepy stretch. When I finally got her back to sleep, Rachel stumbled in and started crying. Although she usually ends up in bed with us, she’s typically quiet as a mouse and just sneaks in and nestles her warm body in the cocoon of covers. But tonight she was inconsolable, wanting to find Knuffle Bunny (her lovey). I eventually settled her down, too, and I decided to take Thomas into another room. Bleary-eyed and heavy with exhaustion, I snuggled beside him and all was calm and quiet for about, maybe, 20 minutes. Then he woke up not once but three times before the sunlight started to seep through the cracks in the blinds.
Why can’t I get a break? I thought.
Despite the fact that Rachel recently found a five-leaf clover, and a few days later Madeline found a four-leaf-clover, I feel like we could use a stroke of good luck. Maybe St. Patrick will come through for us on his special day.
But maybe not. Either way, we may be just slightly down on our luck, but that doesn’t mean we’re not blessed.
So often people equate being blessed with being lucky. Those lucky people who seem to have it all (um, like me most of the time) are so blessed. That lucky friend who doesn’t seem to work hard at anything is one blessed lady. She’s a natural rockstar mother, and she makes Rachael Ray look like an amateur in the kitchen. Or maybe those lucky neighbors who were able to sell their house, which is half as fantastic as yours, in just a few months when everyone else is really struggling in the housing market. Man, are they blessed.
I’ve been writing about my mom a lot lately because she’s constantly on my heart and mind. Now she’s someone who could certainly be seen as being unlucky when it comes to her health. And, yet, she is one of the most blessed people I know. It’s not because she doesn’t suffer or because things couldn’t maybe be a little easier for her – like maybe that major brain surgery would have done more than rob her of vision in her right eye and would have actually alleviated some of her chronic pain.
What makes her blessed is her ability to find contentment in spite of what may go wrong or what seems unfair. She’s always been someone who is satisfied with the person she is and someone who tries to make the best of what is going on in her life.
When good fortune comes our way, we are certainly blessed. But we’re a blessed people even when we’re most definitely not courting Lady Luck.
God blesses us all. He blesses me in midst of dead tadpoles, sleepless nights, and minor mishaps. He blesses my mom in midst of her suffering. He doesn’t hold out on us. And if we recognize that, if we submit to Him and the life He has planned for us, if we live in the present moment instead of cursing the past or hoping for an easier, brighter future, we ought to consider ourselves very lucky. And very, very blessed.
Have a lucky, blessed day!