Friday, December 16, 2011

34 weeks.

A little update.

I am 34 weeks pregnant today (cue applause!!). Yesterday I went into the hospital for a third time during this pregnancy, after three days of persistent contractions. And for the third time I was adamant that I did not need to go when the doctors office insisted that it was necessary.  But, like the previous two times, I gave in and once again found myself on floor 2 at our local hospital. Fun times!

Here's why I don't like to go. I feel like if I'm just having uncomfortable contractions, no matter how frequent, I'm okay as long as he's okay...and I know in my heart that he's okay. (Like Kris Vallotton says, "Vision gives pain a purpose.") I can handle the discomfort as long as it means he's still hanging in there, and doing fine. And he always is. I know it's important to be monitored, but I also know I'm okay. I just know it.

Yesterday actually turned out great! That whole, "the third time's a charm," thing happened. It was still long, (a solid 5 1/2 hours), but it was different. Before I went in, I prayed like I always do. And then I took the elevator up to labor and delivery to once again rendezvous with that lovely gown that always greets me in a haphazard fashion, either laying on the bed or on the food tray (strange). And then I climbed into the bed that comes apart in about 17 different ways. Functionality beats comfort by a long shot in those beds. They're functional and that's it.

I decided against tv for about 5 hours of my visit. I just didn't want the noise of it. TV doesn't really matter so much to me anyway. I often times prefer quiet over the static of nothingness on tv. So, I grabbed my iPhone instead and went right to, where else, Facebook. Haha! 

I found two great things on my news feed right away. And I think the Lord put them there on purpose. The first was a clip by Bill Johnson about staying in the rest of the Lord. It's about staying at peace no matter what comes your way. The Lord has been teaching me a lot about rest and boundaries during this pregnancy so I knew He was up to something when that clip caught my eye, and eventually my attention. 

Here's the link if you want to watch : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvkE4PyVZrs&sns=em. It's a quick 9 minute watch with a lot of impact. You have 9 minutes, don't you? (No pressure!) :)

After that, I happened upon Bill Johnson's daughter singing a song called, Healer. Again, it felt like the Lord, so back to YouTube I went. 
Another link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3aBhGu4ryg&sns=em 

These are the lyrics:

Healer:

You hold my every moment
You calm my raging seas
You walk with me through fire
And heal all my disease
I trust in You
I trust in You

Chorus:
I believe You're my Healer
I believe You are all I need
I believe You're my Portion
I believe You're more than enough for me
Jesus You're all I need

Bridge:
Nothing is impossible for You
Nothing is impossible for You
Nothing is impossible for You
You hold my world in Your hands

As soon as the song started I turned it up all the way and put it on my belly for our baby to hear. (I know the song says the word, 'disease,' in it. I know we don't have a disease, but the song was so perfect nevertheless.) I cried during the bridge of the song. I felt like me and my baby were especially singing that part to Jesus. We really believe He holds our worlds in His hands.

As the song played I had moments of, "I hope this song isn't too loud, and I hope it's okay that I'm using my cell phone," but then I got over that, and just didn't care. I felt the presence of the Lord so strong in the hospital room that I thought any hospital worker would be so lucky to come in and feel the peace that had now taken over my room, my baby, our hearts and our spirits. It was pretty special. So then I moved right along to Jenn Johnson singing, "I Love Your Presence." One of my all-time worship songs. And then I just sat there, lingering in peace that felt so thick and tangible. Intoxicating. And I had contractions almost the whole time, but they were much less noticeable. Funny how that works. ;)

My friend, Nicole, came to see me for the last 40 minutes or so, and that was so sweet. We just sat and talked, and laughed, and moved from one half-conversation to the next, like we always do. Totally random and unpredictable. I love how we can go from one topic to the next, back to the first, into the third, finish the first, and then go somewhere else entirely. Good friends are good at that. 

The doctor came in at the end and said that my preterm labor test was negative. (Great news!) She did go ahead and give me a shot of betamethasone though, to help strengthen the baby's lungs should he come early. (I had to go back for a second shot today. Ouch.) And then she said that the baby could come anytime after 35 weeks and be just fine. I told her that I didn't want to keep coming back to the hospital every time I start having more than 4 contractions in an hour. (That's their rule of thumb.) I said, "I feel like its pointless." She understood what I meant and told me that since this is my 4th baby my body just knows what to do, and so do I, so she gave me permission to only come back if I find myself in hard labor, like the kind you have right before delivery. Or if something major happens, (water breaks, bleeding, etc.) I was relieved. I was so tired of everyone panicking, (namely the folks at he doctors office).

The contractions I've been having are uncomfortable and persistent, but that's it. I'm 2cm dilated, (sorry men-folk), but that's it. So, as of now, I'm still having to take it easy, and rest as much as possible, and I'm trying to. It's been hard, but things are settling down now. I'm officially done Christmas shopping (hooray), and have no big engagements coming up, so I'm finding rest easier to come by now. Phew! 

So, who knows when baby boy will come? He could come early, or he could come on time. Probably not late though. Time will tell. The only thing I'm sure of at this point is that the Lord has my world, and his, in His great big hands. That's enough for me. 

This is our last baby, as far as I know, so I have determined to savor every last second of being pregnant. I love him more than my heart understands, just like I love my princesses, and I'd rather spend my time resting, loving on his life and destiny than worrying about the discomfort. It's not always easy, but it's the goal. He'll be here before we know it. What does he look like? Hmmm... Handsome for sure! Delicious and breathtaking, definitely. Completion to our family, absolutely.

Here are a few sweet quotes to leave you with...

"A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on."

"Having a child is surely the most beautifully irrational act that two people in love can commit."

"Nobody will ever know the strength of my love for you, after all you're the only one who knows what my heart sounds like from the inside."

"Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body."

"Before you were conceived I wanted you. Before you were born I loved you. Before you were here an hour I would die for you. This is the miracle of love."

Okay, that's all. Me and baby boy are well. I hope all of you are too! 

Love & Merry Christmas!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

30 Weeks

Yesterday I spent a solid 6 hours in a hospital bed, hooked up to monitors measuring unrelenting contractions. I'm only 30 weeks pregnant so contractions at this point are no good, and better yet, unnecessary. Totally inappropriate, if you ask me. :) 6 hours of tv, some texting, shifting around in a terribly uncomfortable bed, starving, and desperate for answers. I wanted to go home. I was all by myself. No one to talk to, nothing of importance to do. I occasionally glanced out my big window to look on the view of the parking lot of people coming and going. I had moments of wondering who the people were, and what their purpose at the hospital was, and then I was back to shifting around in my bed, trying not to disturb the monitors stuck to my basketball belly. Overall I was miserable. 

But then I had a moment where my  despair and pity were usurped briefly by the wonder of life. It happened when I looked back at the monitors to read their numbers and happened to notice the baby bed sitting nearby, ready to receive new life. (I was in a labor and delivery room -- not a monitoring room -- those were full. So, my room was all set and staged for the ushering in of a new, sweet life.) I admit it, I only looked at it for about 10 seconds or so, but in those quick seconds my mind shifted from, "this stinks," to awe and wonder, and the thought of what my little boy will look like when we meet face to face. Love rushed in, and moved on my heart. I was overtaken by the mystery of new life, and the destiny that begins to breathe on it's own, for the very first time, in rooms like these. It was magical. It was precious. The sure steady sound of my baby's audible heartbeat on the monitor in the background only amplified the perfect nostalgia of the moment.

Despondency became joy.

And then I was back to watching the Food Network, salivating at the sight of food, and regretting the 4 graham crackers I had earlier that morning. (I would've had a box full had I known I'd soon go hungry. I know. 6 hours isn't that long, but I'm pregnant, and used to eating whenever I like.)

The funny thing about the onset of these contractions is that I had been telling myself this whole pregnancy, "I just need to make it to 30 weeks." (Why, you ask? I have no idea.) 30 weeks arrive, and, BAM, full-on contractions, and not Braxton-Hicks contractions. Contractions like I remember having the day I went in to have Noelle. (**Warning: Careful what you think and say.**) 

So, a trip to the hospital, and a negative preterm labor test later, and I'm back at home with orders to take it easy. The contractions have set things in motion for the arrival of our baby, however, not so much so that I can't manage holding off on his big debut for now. But, the way to do that is to do nothing. I'll give it a try. I mean, within reason. I have a family to take care of, but as my doctor put it yesterday, "You are the only one who can take care of this baby right now. You need to do whatever it takes to do that." Her words made an impression on me. I had an "ah-ha" moment. I realized again the privilege I have of protecting this baby in my belly until God thinks he's ready to come see us in person. That's pretty special. 

So, maybe I'll blog more, craft more, or invent new ways to be productive while sitting still. Or maybe I'll finally take the advice of a friend who is near and dear to my heart, and very much like Jesus, and do nothing. She just told me (a few days prior to the onset of these contractions) that it's time to rest, to reassess boundaries, and stop doing so much. She's right. I'm going to give it a try. Besides, I'm starting to finally understand that rest really does bring life's sweetest moments. Rest and time for reflection pull you out of the confusion of the moment, and right into the heart of God. Rest brings sweet revelation, and appreciation for the little things in life...just like the feeling I felt when I looked over at that baby bed. Rest is good. Necessary. Rest makes you breathe better.

One more quick thing before I go. This past week I have been to the hospital twice, (once for me, and once for Noelle), and to the pediatrician's office once for Claire. All 3 times the visits have ended in what I'll call, false alarms. No significant injuries, illnesses, or nightmare diagnosis's.  All 3 times have resulted in praising God for His omniscient presence in our lives, and for His strong hand that refuses to let go of us. For His unswerving gaze that keeps us safe and protected. For His love. The night before Noelle's visit to the ER found me sleeping in her room, on the floor, on a very thin futon mattress, (pregnant), and while the sleep I got was insignificant at best, it was one of the sweetest nights I've had in my life, ever. I've never been so aware of angels and Heaven and Jesus as I was that night. Her room felt stuffy and intoxicating, but in a good way, make that, great way. It felt like all of Heaven lived in her room. I'm pretty sure it does. The next day a friend said, "Ahh, a room of no worries. Perfect peace." That's what it was. It was a room where a child of God lay sleeping in perfect peace, being completely certain of the promise of a new day, and even if that day didn't come, it wouldn't matter anyway. There was perfect peace, steady breathing, and beautiful rest. 

Babies live in the now, and trust in their caretakers to provide for them, believing, without a doubt, that they will. And if they don't, it doesn't matter, because their Creator, whom they still know very well is with them. I'd like to get back to that. I'd like to be the child that the Bible encourages me to be. My kids are helping me learn. Divine circumstances are helping me see. I pray I'm becoming a good student. I pray I can put into practice what I'm beginning to understand. God, help me! :)

Until next time....

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Baby #4

The cat's out of the bag, baby #4 is on his way!

(I said, 'his!' Isn't that miraculous? A baby boy has finally come along, last in line, after a good run of sugar and spice, and everything girl! And we couldn't be more thrilled!)

This pregnancy is my biggest reason for my blog writing sabbatical. I like to write about things that are in the forefront of my mind, or pressing persistently on my heart, and, well, a baby will do that to a Mama! I'm not one to break baby news right away, anyway. It's a matter of preference for me. I like to cherish her/him in my heart first, and also make sure things are coming along nicely as far as health is concerned, before I/we make the big announcement. So, here we are, 20 weeks in, and I finally feel like I want to blog about my angel baby #4. (I've wanted to tell you all about it for some time now. Like the minute the two lines appeared, or the morning after my dream, but I had to refrain. You understand.)

So, a quick little back story.

(** Warning to the not-so-spiritual: Might want to pack it up, and leave now if you're not so into Jesus, like I am. If you decide to linger on and read, please no eye-rolling, or heavy, sarcastic sighing.  This story is precious to me. **)

Okay, moving right along.

One night in April, 2011 I found myself in dreamland. It was business as usual for me. I was caught up in some ordinary Jenny dream, when a different dream interrupted for a brief couple minutes.

A commercial break, if you will.

In that dream I heard the sound of the most complex, intricate drum beat I'd ever heard. It was a beat no solitary drummer could make on his/her own. It was way too involved. I realized that the sound was coming from a Doppler heart monitor placed on my belly. I looked up at the doctor who was listening to the heartbeat, and hesitantly asked, "Is that my baby's heartbeat?" The doctor shook his head, yes, with a look of giddy excitement on his face.

I remember pausing for a brief second to process/reflect, and then I looked back up at the doctor with a sort of puzzled, inquisitive look on my face. I remember raising objections in my mind, like,

"But, we're done."

And then,

"Wait, that's a boy. Is there really one more? How could I say, no, if there's another little Trask in heaven, waiting to come down?"

We met gazes for a moment. It was like he heard all of my thoughts, even though they occurred only in my heart in a simultaneous-combustive-unorganized sort of way. He looked at me with a look I've seen on my one year old's face. That familiar, 'I'm-so-excited, and definitely up to something' mischievous look.

And then I remember him saying, only without words, "What do you want to know? I'll tell you anything you want to know." Same look on his face. Wide, enticing, about-to-burst, eyes, with a coy, encouraging smile.

I shook my head, no, and somehow backed out of the dream.

Commercial over. And I'm back to my regularly scheduled dream programming.

I woke up the next morning in normal Mama mode, processing the upcoming day, organizing my to-do list, thinking about Josh, etc., etc., (this all happens in a matter of seconds, by the way). Thoughts are flying. I'm exchanging good morning's with Josh, when I stop mid-sentence and say,"Oh my gosh. I just remembered. I had a dream last night."

(Pause.)

Josh can tell it made an impression on me. He's all ears. I tell him the dream. He smiles. I smile too, although I'm a total confused mess.

There is a serious subject on the table.  A matter of life. I need to investigate. I'm a woman. It's what I do.

Later in the morning I find myself deep in thought, in a house now quiet from little girl chatter. My thoughts merge from my mind and heart, right into a heavy conversation with the Lord. There's no formal hello's exchanged between us.  We just get right down to business.

I think it started like this.

"Was that you in my dream? Are you sure about this? We just can't have another baby. We need to be able to financially support another child first. I want to be responsible. If that dream was just a whim, I need to know."

We, (God and I), both knew it wasn't a whim. I know when I have God dreams. I knew that morning it was a God dream. I suppose I was trying to put the Lord on notice, reminding Him that I really want to be responsible so that He can trust me/us with more. And that my biggest heart's desire is to be obedient to Him. (I've learned by now that when we follow the Lord's plan for our lives, we live out of exceeding, abundant joy, happiness and provision.) I was serious.  I'm sure He was yawning. 

I'll be honest, deep down I loved the idea of one more child. A BFF for Noelle. A (possible) little boy for Josh to call, "buddy!" I was totally on board in my heart, but my mind needed confirmation.

So, I continue carrying on with the Lord when I put my hands in my jean pockets to smooth them flat. (I was getting ready for the day. Bunchy pockets give you odd shaped hips. Haha!) I felt something in my right pocket. It was wadded up money. I know money when I feel it, even though I almost never have cash.

So, in classic Jenny reasoning I put the Lord on the spot. I said, out loud, "If this is four one dollar bills, then I'll know this us You, and that everything will be taken care of." (Four one dollar bills = four kids.  You get it.)  :-)

And what do you know? $4.00 exactly. I smiled. I stopped rambling. I tucked the dollar bills away for safe keeping, and then I was quiet. I looked into the mirror and started fixing my hair. I couldn't get that one-year-old happy little look off my face. We were going to have another baby. And it just might be a boy this time.

So, here we are 20 weeks in. Half way done. We made plans to keep the baby's gender a surprise until he/she arrived...and then yesterday happened. Ultrasound time. We went in for our appointment at 9:30am. I told the technician that we weren't sure if we wanted to know what the baby's gender is.

I said, "Unless it's entirely obvious to us, we don't want you to tell us. Instead we'd like you to write it down on a piece of paper so we can look later if we want to." It was kind of like the game I played with the Lord. A gamble, if you will.

Our eyes were glued to the tv screen during the scan. And then, BAM, something unusual appeared. Something I had not seen during my 3 girls' ultrasounds. It was unmistakable. I blurted out, "It's a boy!!!!" I was laughing. Josh was laughing. Uncontrollable joy. I even hit the technician in the arm and said, "Isn't that the cutest little boy you've ever seen?" She laughed and shook her head, yes. (I know she lied. She has a little boy of her own - every parent swears hers is the finest looking child - but she couldn't resist agreeing with my over-the-moon joy, so she agreed!) I'm right, by the way! ;-)

And that's most of our story, to-date. There are other precious pieces of this story, but those will remain in my heart for me to cherish.

In short, we are a blessed Trask family!  We can't wait to meet our son!
In closing, I've missed blogging, very much! There's a lot rolling around in my head. I promise to not stay away so long anymore. I plan to write again very soon.  I hope you'll come back to read.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Older-Than-Me

This morning I played Josh a new Brad Paisley song on youtube.  It’s called, “Toothbrush.”  It’s real sweet, and true to the clever, lovey-dovey, uber-creative style that Brad Paisley’s become known for, (which I happen to love…I’m mushy like that).  Anyway, after the song ended I hit the “related” search on the youtube menu and it brought up all of the other songs off Brad’s new album.  So, I scrolled around until I found a title that grabbed me.  (I like words.  Words intrigue me.  Words win me.)  Anyway, I found a title called, “Love Her Like She’s Leaving.”  I know what you’re thinking.  “Wow!  Words win her, huh?  Those are some super complex, deep words.  That’s all it takes?”  I know.  I know.  They’re classic cliché country words, but I knew the message would be sweet, so I hit, play, (and no, that’s not all it takes to win me, by the way).  Well, guess what?  I loved that song too.  The song talks about a man and woman getting married.  At the wedding, her Uncle Bill pulls up a chair and gives the newly wedded husband a little talkin’ to about how to hang onto his wife.  The message is basic, and it’s all in the title, but it’s a good reminder:  “Love her like she’s leaving, like it’s going to end if you don’t, love like she’s leaving, oh and I guarantee she won’t.”  What got me about the song is something that I know for sure about myself.  I love old people.  Strike that.  I love older-than-me people.  In the song there was a man, married for 45 years, giving a young man all of his secrets for keeping a happy wife.  I love that.  It was simple advice, but it worked for him.  Maybe simple really works.  Hmm, there's a thought.  Anyway, I love learning from older people. Thinking about the choices they made; their life picture that appears in my mind when they tell stories; the round-the-mountain lessons they’ve finally learned, that I get to have for free.  I just love them.  I love the legacy and life stored deep within the wells of their eyes.  They fascinate me.  They’re precious to me. 
Quick story, and then to my point. 
A few years back I took my daughters to trick-or-treat at a home for the elderly with their preschool class.  I was strangely excited to go, although I didn’t know why.  I mean, I was definitely hoping there wouldn’t be a stench that would send me over the edge, (classic stereotype, I know), but even still I found myself really looking forward to visiting the elderly, and seeing my ladybug and princess score lots of treats!  Plus, I’m a protective Mom, so I like to go on field trips.  Anyway, when we walked through the doors of the home I wanted to cry, and I mean, boo-hoo sob.  (I'm realizing that my blogs make me seem like such a cry baby.  ...sigh)  Well, anyway, we paraded through the home, room to room, and while I was busy maintaining a straight walking line, shushing loud chatter, and encouraging good behavior, I became very aware of how much I valued each person at the home.  I wanted so badly to know their stories.  To know what they did in life.  To know their triumphs, happiest memories, failures, and lessons learned.  I suppose I just wanted to honor them with a listening ear and a welcoming heart.  It was mostly selfish.  I like getting things for free, especially wisdom, but I wanted to be their friends too.  I wanted to say, thank you, for whatever they were, and whatever they weren’t.  I wanted to say, “Say hi to Jesus for me when you get there.  Are your feet warm?  Can I get you something from your favorite restaurant?  Want a different pillow?  Want my daughter to sing for you?”  You get my drift.  I wanted to be their friend.  I bet only 2 out of the whole bunch would’ve wanted a friend like me.  Someone who talks excessively, and often times, entirely too fast, but that’s okay, I liked them all the same.  I was honored to witness the joy they had as they passed out candy to the raucous preschoolers.  (Except for the man who fell asleep and missed the entire shin-dig.  I actually felt terrible for him.  Poor guy's gonna wake up with a bucket full of candy and no wild kids to give it to.  Or, is he?  Maybe he's a sugar-daddy.  Maybe it was part of his plan!  Haha!)  I plan to go back and volunteer someday.  I will make a new friend there, by golly.  Surely someone will have me.  :-) 
Okay, so here’s what happened this morning.  I listened to the song about the Uncle telling the young man ways to love his wife when that sappy, familiar, I love older-than-me people feeling surfaced again, which made me think of Buck Petty.  (Phew, we’ve arrived at the point.  Clap if you want to.  Or go potty if you need to.  But, definitely keep reading.)

Buck is my neighbor.  He’s married to Elaine.  They’re both precious to my family.  They’re a big part of our adopted family in the south.  I thought since I was thinking about him (and Elaine) this morning, I'd post a poem I wrote about him this past year, when he turned 75, just as a small way to honor him.  Elaine's poem to come...  :-)
We didn't have a lot of money for a gift, but I couldn't show up to his party empty-handed, so Josh and I bought him some coke and peanuts, (a true southern treat), and I wrote him this poem.  (Josh actually read it...I couldn't do it.)


There used to be
a hole in our hearts
Someone missing
Who would play a part
In helping us become
Who we’re supposed to be
And loving us through
Life’s triumphs
and tragedies

If you would’ve asked us
5 years ago
If someone was missing
We would’ve said no
A hero, you say?
No, we’re fine.
Califorina’s our life
This life’s divine

Who would’ve thought
We’d find a hero like you
Who  would hold our hands
And paint our sky’s blue.

You’ve blessed our lives
In countless ways
To name them all
Would take 10 years and 2 days

But a few things come
Right to mind
Times you’ve blessed our hearts
And saved our lives

When Christmas found us
Losing a baby
No money for a tree
Happiness escaped me
Angels from Heaven,
Let’s call them the Petty’s,
Left a Christmas tree outside
And smiles for Claire and Avery
               
And when the snow locked us inside
A red truck came
Like a flash in the sky
We didn’t have to call
No need to ask
You came to rescue us
So that our car could pass

And who could forget
The loud knocks at our door
He comes to check on us
And just like that,
Our hearts soar!
One hundred dollars
And a loving grin,
“Go get you some biscuits
For you and your kids.”

And who could forget
The tires for Josh
You gave them so freely
Like there was no cost
                But we know better

Hugs and hugs
And tears to boot
You’re always there
To help get us through

To some
You’re WL Petty
Dump trucks,
Tractors and rock
To us you’re a hero
To our kids, you’re Pop

We love you, dear Buck
More than you’ll ever know
You make our hearts sing
And you help our faith grow

Knowing you
Is more than an honor
You’ve filled the hole in our hearts
By being a Jesus-shaped father

It’s been 75 years
Here’s to 75 more
We love you forever
Plus forever and four

This is Buck and Elaine with Noelle, just a few days after she was born.

 And here they are again, when we dedicated Noelle to Jesus!  Elaine talked about what a worshiper Noelle is, and Noelle lit up and smiled big. 


 And here's me and Pop, the day he came over to have lunch with Josh and I.  What a treat!

I don't consider Buck and Elaine "old people," but they're older than me and their stories, lives and wisdom are precious to my whole family.  I love them with all my heart, and I hang onto the wisdom in their words like my life depends on it.  Josh and I both do.  They've taught me a lot about true love.  They've laughed and cried with me, pounded their fists with me when things have gone wrong, prayed with me through anything and everything, let me be myself (California-girl-turned-southern), and have treated me like I'm their own...and have loved my babies the way all parents desire for their children to be loved.  Most of all they've shown me the heart of God, and for that I am changed and forever grateful!  I love you, Buck and Elaine Petty (Maw-Maw and Pop)!  I love you forever, plus forever and four.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Summer 2011 List

I found a fellow Mom after my own heart.  She made a Summer Checklist for her family that wasn't overly scheduled, or completely impossible.  I was inspired!  (Summertime is always a stretch for a Mom like me.  How does one find the time to make summer memorable, educational, and fun for the entire family?)  It's a daunting task that takes planning, commitment and ENERGY...it's a year-after-year summertime conundrum for me.  Until now.  I love this list.  It's loose, yet scheduled, simple, yet fun, and most of all, attainable...easy-peasy!  I love it! 

Here's our list. 

What's yours look like?

Inspiration from:  http://megduerksen.typepad.com/whatever/2011/06/the-summer-list.html

PVC Pipe Sprinkler Course:  http://prairiedaze.com/2010/08/08/pvc-pipe-sprinkler/

*  Yes, we have ice cream for dinner one night, every summer.  It's tradition.  I understand your potential concern, but yet, the tradition stands.  *

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Dad

Once upon a time there was a family of 8.  James and Dorothy, and their babies, Robert (Bob), James Jr. (Jim), Edna, Betty, William (Bill), and Richard (Rick) Taylor.   I have to be honest.  I don’t know this story very well, but it’s nevertheless part of my story.  My Dad is Rick.  He’s the baby.  He owns a big piece of my heart.
Grandiose doesn’t even begin to describe the size of the stories I heard about our family, growing up.  I remember sitting in Jolon, CA, in a store called, Lake Storage, listening to my Nana (my aunt Edna) tell my sister, my cousin and I stories of our family’s dark, uncertain past.  From running with Jesse James, to having to change our family’s last name to mask being involved with robbers and thieves, I’ve heard it all.  According to my Nana, Taylor isn’t even my maiden name.  No one knows for sure what our family name is, but apparently it’s not Taylor.  (Oh, dear.)  
If you’ve ever been to Jolon on a quiet, ordinary, summer day, you’d understand perfectly how the dry, dusty, hot air of a town, population 250, created the most perfect, stark backdrop for stories like these.  My Nana was a great storyteller, and if she were here, she’d swear her stories were true.  As a young child I believed her, although I still have no idea if there’s any truth in her stories, or rather, to what extent.  I was, at the very least, fascinated.  I’m sure they’re at least partially true, although I’d hate to think of myself as coming from a long line of criminals.  Who knows?  Those were desperate times.  Great Depression times.
I also heard a story of a woman with 5 kids who was told by her doctor that if she were to have a 6th child it would kill her.  If you’re tracking right along with me, you’ve figured out that I’m referring to my Grandma Dorothy, and her 6th baby, my Dad.  She disregarded the advice of doctors and became pregnant one more time.  I heard she loved her babies.  I heard she was a good mother.  I believe she was.  Well, the story goes that my Grandma gave birth to my Dad, and then died 2 or 3 short years later.  My Grandpa died 6 years after that.  My Dad was 9 years old, and without his parents. 
A year ago the most random thought occurred to me.  I wondered if anyone ever told my Dad that it wasn’t his fault that his mother died.  I wondered if he knew that his life was worthwhile, and moreover, divinely purposed and absolutely necessary.  My mind swelled with questions.  My heart raced with urgency.  I’m pretty sure it was a God moment.  I remember sitting on Noelle’s bedroom floor when I dialed the phone to call my Dad.  What could I say?  How do you even start a conversation like that?  Well, when you’re me, you just kind of blurt it out.  So, I did.  I think I said something like, “Hey Dad!  How are you?” (Quick pleasantries exchanged.)  And then, “Dad, I’m not sure if you’ve ever felt like you were the reason your mom died, but I wanted to call to say that it’s not your fault.  If it weren’t for you there wouldn’t be me.  I’m so thankful for you.”  I’m pretty sure we both cried, and I know he thanked me.  My Dad is tough.  He’s a crier sometimes, but still very strong.  He’s not inclined to get too deeply emotional over things.  I think it would wreck him if he did.  That’s okay.  I like him just the way he is.  I pray his heart was healed a little that day.  I pray he understood, if even just a little bit, how much he was loved, and how his mother considered her possible death no cost to bring him into this world.  She understood the risk, knew the gamble, and played her cards anyway.  She considered his life more valuable than her own.  As a mother myself, I understand.  I wish I could've known my Grandma Dorothy and Grandpa James, (or maybe it was Grandpa Jim).  I know I would've loved them so much.  I do love them so much.  They gave me my family.   
Okay, hang on.  Time to shift gears.  Ready?  Deep breath.
There's a movie I’ve become slightly obsessed with.  Obsessed is such a strong word.  In love might be better.  There's a movie I’ve fallen in love with.  There.  That’s better.  It’s called, Dreamer.  It’s a movie about a race horse, starring, Kurt Russell, Dakota Fanning and Kris Kristofferson.  If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.  It’s about a dad who fights to keep what’s left of his horse farm.  He’s a horse trainer, but he has no horses of his own, until the day he ends up with Sonador, (spanish for Dreamer).  It’s a story of a father being changed by his daughter, and a daughter being molded by her father, and a horse who puts it all together.  I know it sounds cheesy and chick-flicky, and well, maybe it is to some, but I find it incredibly meaningful.  Without giving away too much of the plot I’ll say that there are constant struggles in the movie, but hope always surfaces to ultimately hush every obstacle the family faces.  The impossible becomes possible.  It’s a movie about real life stress, real life heartache, and how brokenness paves the way to victory and unshakable restoration.  It’s about a little girl who sees through her dad’s tough exterior to see the real hero inside, in spite of his sometimes short temper and, at times, pessimistic point of view.  She understands what this world has made him into, but she’s convinced that present circumstances will not define who her family is.  She brings her dad hope, and her dad saves her heart.  It’s a pushing and pulling movie - she pulls him up when he’s down, and he picks her up right when she’s on the verge of giving up.  You can literally feel life being exchanged throughout the entire movie. 
It reminds me of my Dad.  It reminds me of a man who comes from a difficult past, but who, for the sake of his family, has not, and will not, give up.  Deep down he knows he was created for a purpose.  Deep down he knows that the dreams in his heart will come true.  
If it weren’t for my Dad, this world would be missing 2 strong women and one heck of a young man.  If it weren’t for him I wouldn’t be me.  Julie wouldn’t be Julie, and Eric wouldn’t be Eric.  I don’t know what my real maiden name is for sure, (I rather like the name Taylor though), or who my great-great-grandparents were, but I know where I come from.  I come from unrelenting, stubborn love that has never failed me my entire life. 
(Me and my sister, Julie.)

(That's Eric, in the middle, waving.)

My Dad and step-Mom aren’t big on owning movies, but I decided to send them (him) Dreamer for Father’s Day anyway.  I can never fully express the gratitude I have in my heart for my Dad, (who he is, what he's done, what he means to me), or put into words the picture I have in my heart of a childhood brimming with love and security, never mind the hardships. 

So, maybe in some small way, my Dad will see what I see when he watches the movie.  Maybe he’ll see the way the daughter looks at her dad, and the way she believes in him more than he believes in himself, and maybe, just maybe he’ll think of me, my sister or brother, and the way we think the whole world of him.  My Dad is a builder - a builder of buildings and a builder of people.  He's done a great job.  He's built many strong foundations.  Mine is just one of them, and I'm so grateful.
At one point in the movie the little girl says to the horse, “Run hard tomorrow.  Run hard for my Dad.  He deserves a good run.”  I concur.  I want this life to run hard for my Dad.  He deserves the very best.  He’s the very best dad. 
(I love you, Dad, with my whole heart.  You are a picture of strength and perseverance, and the life lessons you've taught me, and the memories you've made with me, and for me, will never, ever leave me.  Thank you!  Happy Father's Day!)
PS:  There’s a phrase throughout the movie that says, speaking of horses,
“You are a great champion. When you ran, the ground shook, the sky opened and mere mortals parted. Parted the way to victory, where you’ll meet me in the winner’s circle, where I’ll put a blanket of flowers on your back.”
It’s about horses, but don’t you think it could apply to us too?  Like, maybe the Lord says something like this to us.  Think about it.  Horses or not, the ground does shake when we run.  The sentiment is powerful, don't you think? 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Observe.

I think there is power in my Shark mop.  I always seem to become inspired when she (my mop) and I team up to sanitize my floors.  We don’t spend a lot of time together.  There’s only so much floor to mop, but for some reason I tend to seriously mull things over when I mop. 
Today I was thinking about what an observer I've become.  When I was younger, I liked to be front-and-center, doing the stuff, you know, performing, getting a reaction, (hopefully one of approval and acceptance).  And now, I like watching.  I still very much like to do things, but just recently I've discovered that I really enjoy (and value) observing, processing, reacting (mostly in my heart), learning, gleaning, and growing from what I see.  The eye as a gateway is a powerful thing, indeed.  
This past week I watched our girls T Ball coach light up when his son stopped a ball and tagged a runner out at first.  As we walked back to the car I asked Josh if he saw the coach’s face when the boy made the out.  He said, no.  I noticed.  There was power in his reaction.  It was explosive.  His entire countenance lit up.  The son was encouraged, and smiled wide in response to his Dad’s praise, but you know kids, especially in front of a crowd -- NBD (no big deal).  The moment lasted all of 5 seconds, but it was packed full of excitement.  The coach said, “Great job, buddy!” as he scooped up the ball and tossed it to the umpire with a proud look (and a giddy laugh-smile) on his face.  The satisfaction that radiated from him, and spilled onto anyone who cared to notice, was moving to say the least.  It was his moment.  I really liked his reaction.  It was absolute and heartfelt, instinctive and true.  It was the highlight of the game.

And then there’s Mrs. Reeves, my daughter’s Kindergarten teacher.  Here is a portion of a letter that I recently wrote to our school’s Principal, acknowledging what an outstanding teacher Mrs. Reeves is. 

“Mrs. Reeves is a true asset to Moravian Falls Elementary.  I don’t know the backgrounds of all of the students in her class this year, but I can guess that the socioeconomic status varies from one extreme to the other in her classroom.  My husband talks about a day when he arrived at school to find Mrs. Reeves brushing a child’s hair.  Sounds simple enough, but it broke our hearts (in a good way).  Mornings are one of the most busy times in the classroom, but Mrs. Reeves is, and never was, too busy to show a child the heart of a mother, and the love of a teacher.  And then there was the time that she came to our daughter’s (and a few of her other students) T Ball game and cheered them on.  It was a funny thing to watch.  She would say, ‘Go Avery.’  Or, ‘Go Chase,’ and almost every time the child would look into the stands with a quick look of confusion on their faces, followed by an immediate smile.  It was like they weren’t sure if they were in school, or on the T Ball field, but they knew to respond to her voice.  It wasn’t a look of fear; it was the look of honor and respect.  When they saw that she was there cheering for them and showing her support, they were so happy.  It was a look of, ‘Mrs. Reeves is calling me.  No, wait.  She’s here cheering for me.  How cool!’  After that particular game I asked Avery if she had fun.  She said, ‘Yes!  And my favorite part was when Mrs. Reeves came.’  That’s something she won’t soon forget.  And then there was the time that another student gave Mrs. Reeves his trophy for winning his motorcycle race just because she came to cheer him on at his race. 
I have observed Mrs. Reeves during award ceremonies.  She looks each child in the eye and honors them.  There have been times when the audience has laughed at a child for doing something quirky or cute.  And while the audience finds the child’s words or actions funny, the child finds it uncertain.  I have watched many children look to Mrs. Reeves in moments like that, unsure if the laughter is that of acceptance or shame, and she’s never failed to meet their gaze with a sure nod of confidence and reassurance.  And just like that, the child is settled and confident once again.  It’s awe-inspiring to witness.  It’s heartwarming to feel.  The learning, love and wisdom deposits that Mrs. Reeves makes in the hearts and minds of children are precious and priceless.  Teachers like Mrs. Reeves are the hope and prayer of parents like us.” 
I’ve learned a lot from Mrs. Reeves.
And then there are my kids and my husband.  What a privilege I have to get to observe them every day.  I mean, it’s my life’s greatest, purest, most passionate, raw, obscene joy.  I love them madly.
  
I often watch my husband react to things I say.  Sometimes I say things just to see what he’ll say or do.  I know it's rotten to test him.  I shouldn't do it.  Maybe I'll stop.  Anyway, it turns out my husband possesses an integrity that is deeply rooted, and not easily shaken.  He’s rarely ruffled by the things I say, or the bad choices I make.  (Yep, I make bad choices sometimes.  Ha!)  He’s usually much more mature than I am, even if he’s younger than me.  It’s nice to be in a home where the husband really is the cornerstone of what we are building and becoming.  I’m getting off subject here.  What I meant to say is that I love the example of integrity that I watch my husband walk in every day.  Whether it’s with clients, friends, family, strangers, me or our girls, it’s always there.  It’s steady and unswerving.  I want to be more like him.  I like to look at him when our girls talk to him.  I like to see if he will return their affection in a way that only a Daddy can, and he almost never fails.  (I would say, “never fails,” but that would mean he’s perfect, and we all know no one is perfect.)  I take that back.  To me, he's perfect.  Perfect for me, perfect with me.  He’s a dreamboat.  :-)  I admire him so much. 
And my Trask babies.  (Sigh.)



Yesterday Claire showed me a note she wrote to her teacher, Mrs. Bare.  She was extremely affectionate in what she wrote, but what stood out to me most was when she said, referring to Mrs. Bare, “You are such a blessing.”  I appreciated her use of the word.  I like that she could find no other word to clearly articulate her point.  Our girls use the words “blessing” to refer to people or things, and “blessed” to refer to how they feel, but not in a religious, dry kind of way.  They use them in a real, ordinary, no-big-deal sort of way.  They’re blessed by their blessings.  I like that.  It’s honest.  It’s sweet. It's uncoached. 
And Avery.  I have to watch Avery.  She’s quiet and wild all at the same time.  My pretty little paradox, (and I mean that in the most sincere way).  I watch her a lot.  Words and actions hit her deeply, and her face is usually an instant give-away to how she feels.  But there are times when she puts her blatant, in-your-face, pout away for a more subtle, quiet kind of hurt.  Moments like those break my heart.  I've become pretty good at observing when they happen, (if I happen to be in the same room when they happen), or at the very least why they happen, even if it means it's time for 2,000 questions to get to the bottom of something.  But when we arrive at the source of discomfort I find the grace of God rushes in so strong.  I catch myself saying things I didn't know, or things that are way beyond the confines of my seeming wisdom, and with the help of the Lord, I somehow have the ability to save her day.  (Josh often does this for me.)  I don't solve every problem, or fix every  hurt feeling, but the victories definitely outweigh the defeats.  God helps us handle what we can, and then He takes care of the rest.  I'm definitely no superhero, but I am a Mom -- a strong, powerful Mom. 
(That reminds me of the time the girls were running up the stairs after I fixed something for them when I heard Claire say to Avery, “See?  I told you she could fix it.  She fixes everything.”)  I melted.

I like how my girls play on their own.  I give them their space, but am usually not too far away.  I'm always listening to them.  There have been times when questionable subjects come up between them, you know, like boys, and I just listen.  I try to never interject right away.  Instead I like to see where the conversation takes them.  I’ve had so many proud Mom moments during times like these.  I’m normally so encouraged by the stands they take, and the convictions they have.  I pray that stuff sticks forever.  It's good stuff.  :-)

 
And then there’s Noelley Belley Boo.  My one-year-old wonder.  So full of curiosity, and so deep in wisdom.  Her eyes tell stories too complex for me to understand, while her adventure seeking feet and tiny wandering fingers remind me that she’s just a baby, my baby.  I love watching her. 
(Side note:  I have a theory about babies.  Ready?  I believe the reason babies can’t talk when they’re first born is because they’d tell us all the secrets of Heaven, and we either wouldn’t believe them, couldn’t handle it, or we’d never leave them alone.  Naive, I know, but I really believe it.  It’s okay if you don’t agree.)  Wouldn’t you agree, though, that they do arrive with instinctive traits that had to come from somewhere?  How else do babies arrive on earth knowing that their little fingers are the perfect size for picking their noses?   That’s not learned behavior.  They come with that knowledge.  And how do they know to dance in reaction to music?  How do boys know to grunt and growl, and girls know to nurture?  I know I’m generalizing here.  But there are some traits that are pretty standard across the baby spectrum.  I happen to think their perfect knowledge of our Creator is just one of them.  It's just a theory.      
I love this quote:  “Before you were conceived I wanted you.  Before you were born I loved you.  Before you were here an hour I would give my life for you.” – Maureen Hawkins
(That was totally random, but isn't it good?)

I’ve carried on a lot in this one.  Before I end though, I thought I’d leave you with a few other things I’ve learned over this past year.  (My list is incomplete for sure, but some of this is kind of funny, so here you go.)
-  There are lymph nodes behind the ear that swell when a child (or person) is sick.  It's our bodies immune response to sickness, and NOT a tumor.  Phew!  :-)
-  Milk is bad.  (Way long story.)
-  Mediterranean eating is the way to go.
-  Selfishness is ugly, ugly, ugly.  I have given a lot of stuff away this year in attempt to be less selfish. 
-  Boundaries are good.  They help us understand our value.  Think about it. 
-  Creativity cannot be duplicated.  Ideas can be appreciated and expressed by a multitude of people, but the creativity that is produced, based on another person's idea, is never the same as what inspired it.  We are all far too original.
-  Honor is so important.  Think of the word, dishonor.  Eww, ugly! 
-  Some words are entirely too strong to use carelessly.  Words like, "always" and "never."  I try to use these sparingly. 
-  Concrete floors are easy to scratch.
-  Drilling into metal window jambs is generally a bad idea.
-  Hanging pictures without a level is a bummer.
-  Taking time to sand furniture, before painting it, is time well spent. And choosing the right sander is key.  Power sander, good.  Belt sander, bad.
-  Homes with really nice grass are a testament to hard work.  Who knew growing grass isn't as easy as spreading seed and hay, and then hoping for the best.  :-)
-  If flowers can come up on a gravel driveway, what's stopping me from blooming where I'm planted?  Same thing with acorns.  No one planted all of the oak trees growing in my yard, and yet there is an upcoming grove of oak trees right outside my window.  Acorns fall, trees come up.  Isn't that amazing?
-  Kale, garlic greens and onion greens, pea shoots, and boiled fresh beets are all delicious.  (New foods to me. Thanks Harmony Acres.)
-  Peanut butter, banana, and mayo sandwiches aren’t half bad.  Thanks Pop.
-  Movies about horse races are right up there among my all time favorite movies.  (I'm such a Mom.)

And finally, here are a few that I’ve known for a long time, but am constantly reminded of.  There is so much power in what we say and what we do.  Actions do speak louder than words.  The tongue is the keeper of life and death.  I just read something on someone else's Facebook page where a person wrote, and I'm paraphrasing here, "the way you look makes me laugh."  What if she would have said, "the way you look makes me smile"?  See the difference?  What the person wrote was coy, underhanded and downright mean.  Words carry the power to either build up or tear down.  So, I'm reminded to speak carefully.  Act appropriately.  Find and know Love, and behave accordingly.  And better watch out, I might be watching you.  Haha!  More importantly, our kids are watching us.  Lord, help us.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Jenny

My husband said to me the other day, “I want to read your next blog.” 
“I haven’t written a new one yet,” I said. 
Silence. 
So, here I am, avoiding my Monday chores to write.  I was thinking this morning about how much more I like myself lately.  I know what you’re thinking, “Oh no, here comes the narcissism.”  Wait.  Don’t leave yet.  I’m not talking about how much I love the way I look or behave, or about how smart I think I am, because believe me I don’t like to dilly-dally down that path.  It’s way too uncertain, unsettled and undone at best, (nightmare!), but I have come to the place in my life where I'm really starting to enjoy Jenny. 
For example, I have some flowers planted in front of my house in planter boxes.  I was trying to figure out how to best arrange them so they’d look best to visitors when I said, “I like them here because I can see them.  I like to look at them.”  In true Jenny fashion, I ignored how I felt, and continued my futile attempt at landscape design.  Puke.  It's so overwhelming.  I love my land, but, oh the money it would take to whip her into shape. 
Anyway, Josh was out there with me, moving things according to my whims when he said, “Why don’t you just leave them here?  You just said you like them here because you like to see them through the window.” 
Now, let’s be clear here.  He wasn’t trying to help me add value to our house, he was trying to get out of work.  I mean, I can’t blame him.  It was boring, aimless work, with no guarantee of an end in sight.  But, he was right.  (Sometimes a husband’s ploy to get out of work is him being used by the Lord to bring freedom to his wife, even if he's just trying to get out of work.)  So, with that said, I conceded.  I had him leave my flowers, and my most favorite baby tree, right outside my window where they teeter on uneven patches of grass and red North Carolina dirt.  And you know what?  I love them there.  And you know what else?  They make me happy there.  I can see them.  They bring me joy by living there.  They look like a line of yardsale plants, but they make me happy. 

When we get serious about landscaping I’ll become more strategic about placement, but I’ve made up my mind.  I will landscape around my heart.  I’ll put my flowers where I can see them.  They’re here because they caught my eye.  I don’t want them to be hidden from my view.
Something else.  I often wear these shoes with socks.  These aren’t meant to be worn with socks. 

I mostly do it because there's a no-shoe policy in our house so when it’s time to go, these are easy.  It's not right, but when I look down, it doesn't seem so wrong.  I like that.  It's me.  When I was a teacher I purposely wore socks that didn't match my outfit.  I did it to be quirky.  I thought, teachers should be quirky, so mismatched socks were my attempt at being odd.  And it was easy.  It seems that socks being mismatched makes me happy.  They either don't match my outfit, or the shoes I wear.  I'm okay with it.  I think it's funny.  And side note, I don't like stinky shoes from sweaty feet.  Socks with these shoes, problem solved.  :)
Okay, let's pause here.  There are many things I DO care about getting right.  (I'm not totally free yet.)  My house.  I'm particular, especially where cleanliness is concerned.  It's a deep issue of control.  I get that.  But, it also makes me happy.  I like when things are tidy.  I can better relax when things are together.  I grew up in an uncertain environment.  My parents are my heroes, but I've lived my fair share of rough times.  Having things in order is a sense of security for me.  It's predictable and safe.  It's not for everyone, but it works for me.  I could stand to let loose a little, and if you ask Josh, he'd say I have, but maybe a little more would be good.  Maybe soon.  Maybe not.  We'll see.  The trick is finding balance between keeping a clean house, and enjoying my life.  I'm working on it.  I mostly clean while my kids are at school, Noelle is napping, and Josh is at work.  But, I'll be honest, I've missed many fun times with my kids so I could tidy up one more thing.  Bad.  Shameful.  Regretful.  I purpose to miss no more.  I like that about me.  I like that I've given myself permission to let go; permission to make a conscious decision to let go; and permission to hold myself accountable when I choose chores over babies.  I like where I'm headed in this.  
I also like that I have a no-shoe policy in my house.  Whoa!  Whoa!  Whoa!  Now, it's getting crazy in here.  Hahaha!  I know.  It is!  But it's me.  And I like me.  We are surrounded by red dirt/mud, as previously mentioned.  It's my house.  I like clean inside, mud outside.  Period.  I used to feel terribly guilty about asking people to take their shoes off when they come in.  Now I don't.  I learned that it's one of my boundaries, and boundaries are good.  I cherish, honor and value my friends.  I don't ask them to remove their shoes to be bothersome.  I do it because it's my house.  It makes me happy. 
I suppose my point in all of this is that I've come to a place in my life where I actually like seeing the real Jenny come out more and more.  I watch how carefree my girls are, and how their personalities come out in unique, creative, uninhibited, shapeless ways.  That's them in their purest pursuit of joy.  That's what I'd like to bottle up and keep for their whole lives.  That's what this tired old world needs.  It seems we grow out of that, and into a person that the world, (Christians and non-Christians), find acceptable, and better yet, appropriate.  Listen, I'm all about honor, integrity, good character, and living a life pleasing to the Lord.  But I will do it in a way that is expressly, uniquely me.  I will live a life of quirky righteousness.  I will teach my girls to be themselves.  What I overcome, I overcome for generations.  I will be free in the true sense of the word.  I will not be reckless, nor will I be unaccountable or rebellious in my freedom, but I will make an effort to let myself be me.  I will live close to my God and family, and operate honestly from my heart.  I pray my girls will do the same. 
I like being 32, but I like the Grandma-feeling I'm starting to have.  Not the, I'm ready for grandkids, Grandma-feeling, but the, I like who I am and it's starting to show, Grandma-feeling.  The gentle peace in who I am; the strength and security I get from living honestly; and the pure, raw joy that comes from letting myself and my family be who we are, trusting God in everything, and letting Him come out in ways that can only be expressed uniquely through us.  I like this point in my life.  I like this new Jenny.  I like her a lot.