Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter…..And a Funeral.

     My father-in-law was sick. He had a rare type of cancer that progressed quickly after Christmas and took his life in the wee hours of the morning on April 19th….the day after Good Friday, but the day before Easter. He's with Jesus now…..no longer hurting….no longer wondering if the pain will cease. Living completely free……without hesitation or restraint. Dancing with our Lord.

I was thinking today about the fact that there is NO suffering, no sickness, no worry, no pain in heaven. So much of our world revolves around our health (or lack thereof). In heaven there is nothing but perfection…..and perfect bodies. It's hard to comprehend while we are still living in our finite selves. One day we will know…..until then, we hope. As Christians there's a hope that encompasses all we do or think. A hope that never disappoints….no matter how cruel the cancer can be. Hope is oxygen to the family of the dying. We lived this out tangibly……our bodies weary from the battle called this past week.

Easter Sunday…..fresh hope of the resurrection upon us, yet fresh pain from a loved ones death. We went to church and hosted close to 40 people after for lunch and an egg hunt. Fourteen kids hunted for some well (and not so well) hidden eggs among the Florida palm trees. Life continues in the midst of the struggle to find reasons, hidden hope in the days following a crisis. I think we found that this Easter. The resurrection life…..that gives hope eternal.
Up and at em Easter Sunday. Made it to the early service even toting Wubba (his parents had a 4am call time….which is what happens when you are musicians and it's a holiday!)

Wubba and his women. I. can't. even. 

14 kids and a successful egg hunt? Why yes, it was.

The big boys (the dad's) who SUPPOSED to hide the eggs well…..dumped a pile of them in the middle of the backyard. Yep, just piled them up in one giant pile. Way to go dads. Heh.

Very competitive. Very.

Bikini and cast. 

Mollie Bear….eating Skittles off the ground. There's no other way.

She found the golden egg! She did, she did!

These two sat just like this just a few months back after Halloween. We need a parents holiday…..

Totally non-scripted picture. This girl…..

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Run or Dye

      I think by now most people know about the Color Runs that take place nation wide. We made plans (way last fall) to participate with our office staff this weekend in the local Color Run knock off here known as "Run or Dye." Basically it's running a 5k, while being pelted with colored cornstarch every mile marker. ….and sometimes in between.  Each 'station' is a different color and by the time you finish the race you are Rainbow Brite herself….or scarier. Sound fun? It is. …..and it's totally a way to be active and exercise together as a family.

     We did the original Color Run last year….in September ….in Florida (translation….400 degrees)….with the entire population of runners in the state ALL running at the same time (at least it felt that way)….so parts of it were fun but when Run or Dye came around we had a strategy. I actually almost didn't go to this one because Mei Mei had hyperextended her knee in gym and needed to rest it….and there was the new glasses thing. Flying colored cornstarch (say that 3x fast) isn't exactly optimal for 8 year olds with newly discovered vision issues in case you missed the memo. BUT….. all the girls were DYING to race again so off to Kissimmee we went.
The family that plays together…..

So pretty and clean…..

Literally the first ones at the rope for the start. Mei Mei was already pink.

Nature Girl with sisters in front of her catching prizes at the start.

Our office staff….so clean and shiny at the start.

The colored cornstarch.

Her kind of party.

Elsa blue…..the hardest color to get off of skin and clothes. Trust me.

Her hair came completely clean. Honest. She would've liked it pink.

These two. Gazelles.

The finish line!

My strategy of hat, glasses and towel work every time. 
      The race was really fun. Not as hot….and not near as many people. The Doc and Blondie took off clip-clopping at the front of the pack while I pushed Mei in a stroller. (Y'all…….she's 8 and still fits in her baby stroller….and likes it.) I just ran/pushed that kid with a towel over her head through the flying starch with the Frozen soundtrack turned all the way up on my I-phone to drown out my huffing and puffing.  I myself kept a hat and sunglasses on, (with a towel too) and we trudged the entire way with Nature Girl stopping to ROLL herself in the color each and every station. Sound like fun? It was. Family memory. One day they're going to tell their grandchildren about rolling in mounds of colored cornstarch in the cow fields of Kissimmee, Fl……..for real.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Totally Tempted To Wear The Cone of Shame

     If you follow me on FB then you know what happened this week….inflating the 'mother-guilt' we all live with if you are a mom. Last Friday during our homeschool time Mei Mei asked me what the date was so she could write it down on her math paper. (She's in the 3rd grade.) I was juggling 3 girls all doing different subjects in different grades, so I told her to look at the calendar and figure it out. Really nothing out of the ordinary for a normal day of school for us. ……only this time she didn't get up and go over to the calendar like she usually does. (Duh I told myself later. Big, big duh!)  I assumed she always did that because she is so tiny. This time she just sat there. I asked her again….even pointed to the number on the calendar (this is a BIG calendar y'all…..with big numbers. Not hard to see….normally).

     "This is the date Mei. What is this number?"

Luke, I am your father…...
     As I was saying those words I felt like I had been sucker punched in the stomach. It hit me square on. I knew immediately….that little voice inside me told me she couldn't see it….and she had no idea what it was she didn't know. It was if time stood still and I had a conversation in my head with my own voice. Mei never said a word. She didn't have to. I knew it was bad.

     Understand….she can read fine. She's been doing fine in school. There were no clues that she wasn't seeing well. Because she lived out her first year in an institution there are 'holes' in her auditory processing and some other 'learning' based areas. No one else would even notice these….but I know they're there. That's what I thought I had been seeing over the last few months. Hindsight is always 20/20…..right? The kid could and cannot see pretty much anything that's not an iPod playing length away. Period.

      Why didn't I catch this? She had had a comprehensive eye exam a couple of years ago by an opthamologist. She passed with flying colors. Now, as we tested her over the weekend it was crystal clear she could barely see an inch from her face…..and because it probably happened gradually….she had no idea. She had never told me things were blurry…..that movies were not clear….make that most of life. Unless it was right in front of her….it was a messy, tangled, blur. She had NO idea….nor we. Y'all, she does five to six back handsprings in a row in gymnastics.  She jumps over a vault horse she can't even see! She's at a level where jumping to the high bar on uneven bars is expected…..even when you can't see it. Oy vey. Ever want a re-do on life?

     Parent fail. Or was it? Monday morning bright and early cause we were on it…. she was sitting in the optometrists chair who just happens to be a friend of ours. I already knew what was coming. The voice inside me (I completely believe it to be the Lord) had prepared me and I was completely unfazed by the number that was written down on that script. I had already known what it would be. I just knew.

     We had prepared Mei Mei over the weekend with the news that she would be getting glasses that day. There was no doubt. We left the eye doctor with a new pair of ADORABLE blue OP glasses on that uber adorable face. All that kid asked for was Elsa Blue glasses so she could look like she lives on the North Mountain, too. Just her, Elsa and Olaf….buddies fo-evah. (If you don't understand this you are totally not cool 'Frozen' nerds like us who live vicariously in Arendale and channel our inner Indina Menzel daily….wait, no….hourly).

     It was easy to slip into Motherlode of guilt. Why hadn't I caught this earlier? Why didn't she say something? Why didn't we see the signs? I had been through this very thing 22 years before with my oldest daughter only she was 4 when we caught it. (She actually had an eye disease that reversed itself.)
Oh, Mother guilt is a huge burden to bear……but I decided I wasn't going to play that game.

The cutest Elsa EVER. Sorry about the vacuum in the background.
At least the fish on the counter is alive and swimming.:)
     You see, when you allow the guilt to take over (and I did for a few) you aren't moving forward. You can't find solutions if you are immersed in guilty feelings. Allowing yourself to indulge in  a pity party paralyzes you and only puts the focus on yourself…. not on the ones who need the help. God knew when to intervene and open my eyes (literally!) ….the God who holds the stars in the sky and daily bears us up KNEW when this little bitty bit of a girl needed help. When you are serving those that need support there is NO TIME for guilt, worry or self-preservation. You have to get your head in the game, not exist in the past, and improve today. We did not knowingly allow her to be left in the condition she was in…..we were all oblivious to what was really happening. I couldn't undo the past, but as soon as I realized the dilemma we were in….I chose action. Focused, intentional…..Mama Bear 'fix this NOW' execution. That's what I chose, and will continue to choose with whatever is thrown my way.

 Within hours this kid could see.  This situation is just a 'thing.' We will press on, cause that's what we do. Press on Moms. You can….one day at a time pressing that can feel like at times you are being flat ironed to the wall pressing. Y'all know what I mean, I'm sure.

     Now, I will say…..instead of guilt I felt sad. Sad that she had to endure not knowing. Sad that she thought the world was really supposed to be blurry. Sad that here are so many like her living out their days in orphanages needing vision treatments and getting none. Those orphans are waiting…..waiting not knowing they need help….or if anyone's coming. I'm Sad that Mei's  had to endure so much in her little life.

     Sad that our recent trip to Disney was spent with her really not seeing it. Sad that when we saw Elsa and Anna from a distance…..she really wasn't even seeing them. There's a difference between misplaced guilt and a deep sorrow. Guilt has no place in a Christian's life…..a life that has been transformed by the sovereign hand of God. Sorrow can be used as a motivator. How??

       We're going back to Disney World…..real, real soon…..with our little Elsa.