Monday, August 15, 2011

Life without Warning: Monet vs. Courbet

Today, as I drove home from a crazy IKEA visit with all 3 kids in the sub ... I looked ahead on Hwy. 50 and could see nothing but grey just before we drove through one of the worst rain storms in my life ... little visibility, cars pulling over and slowing down everywhere, water covering the road & my windshield, not to mention the music we had playing in the car along with the 3 additional voices of commentary in accompaniment ... sensory overload to say the least. But soon, as would happen in most cases, the CD was turned off, the kids were told to be quiet and tunnel vision was acquired in order to navigate.

After about a good 5 or so minutes of pummeling rain, we came through it onto drier road, little rain and brighter skies. The CD was turned back on and my mono-focus subsided into multi-task mode once again. (At this point I'm thinking there are probably many lessons that could be gleaned from this & I'm wondering where you all would go with it; however, ...)

... as we rounded a large turn, as some of you know how the Maryland landscape leads 'round large hills, I briefly faced the line of cars in the opposite lane ... for a moment I thought about where they were going ... towards the grey wall, towards sheets of thick rain ... I thought about whether I might tell them to stop or pull over (if I had that ability), or warn them, at the very least, about what was ahead. Then, the life analogy that materialized for me regarded ... my kids.

What would I tell them about life? I could warn them about all it's woes and dangers, or I could simply try to give them the tools to deal with whatever it is they will encounter. I know most parents try to include a good blend of both and I'm sure I will too. However, I found myself recalculating that even though the other cars were indubitably headed for that storm, it may have quite a different form by the time they get to it. For one, it may have subsided a great deal, or on the other hand, it could be worse, maybe with hail. The fact is that there is nothing I could say that would fully prepare them for what was ahead, because frankly, I couldn't know for sure, as weather is always changing. (wow, 4 absolutes in one sentence is thick, oh well). If I could give them ANY advice, would it be in the shape of a warning about something I couldn't completely describe, even though I had JUST driven through it, or would it possess a more encouraging, inspiring tone? I believe I would have to say something quick & simple like, "Just pay attention, rely on your training, do the best you can and you'll do great."

... which brings me back to my kids ... do I spend more time warning and judiciously guarding them, or training them and then sending them out with an encouraging word? There, of course, isn't a right answer and again, a little of both is appropriate at times, but I have real concerns for children (including my own), who grow up hearing more stories about all the terrible things that can happen to them and not allowed to go out and experience life at an early enough age to discover that no one is a stereotype and life is mostly what you make it. Please don't read any particular group into this, because I have none in mind ... I, for one, have had to be the parent basically putting the fear of reality into my now 7 year old back when he was 3, who apparently has none, just to keep him from running too far away from me. However, as he's grown, I've tried to taper off in my warnings and recommendations of life to him.

I prefer to cultivate in him the kind of heart and mind I believe he should have ... and let him take it from there. Throughout his growth, I'm sure he'll come to me with questions and guidance, but I hope that the picture I paint is more of an impressionist work like a Monet or even a Klimt, than a realist like Courbet (nothing against Courbet). If my description is too exact or precise, I wonder if he'll have the freedom to do his best at life in his own rite, rather than living through mine. Granted, every artist's product is only their version, but I hope my version is porous without being vague; an idea instead of a direction lest I give every detail and stamp out a version that wouldn't even have a hope of being true to whatever he'll experience once he gets there himself.

And now for the religious implications: as Christ taught us while He was with us on Earth, even He used warnings and direction to guide and grow us, but for the most part, His wisdom was aimed at our hearts and He even left us with encouragement as He said at the end of Matt. 28, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Now, I cannot tell my children that I am in total control since I have ALL authority in heaven and earth, BUT, I can tell them that Christ does, and if they trust Him, instead of Mommy or even themselves, He WILL help them (sometimes even in spite of them or me ... ahhh grace). :) I also cannot tell my children that I will always be with them, but ... (you see where I'm going). YES, there are plenty of warnings throughout scripture, but in the end, He sends His children OUT, just as I must do. He tells them they WILL have trouble, but that they can overcome since HE has already overcome the world. Never did He sit down and give them a play by play about how to handle each situation they would face or how to look at a certain group of people, or how to approach every angle of life ... He told us to love, to forgive, to discern & be vigilant and wise yes, but to trust.

I am often guilty of wanting to give my kids too much advice in the form of handing them a map and an exactly replica of what life will look like. What I WANT to do is teach them through MY own actions and not my words, about how to love people and leave the rest up to God.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Not Just Surviving ...

I admit it ... before I set out on this journey called Deployment, the fears I had compiled in regards to the experiences I'd have and my ability to handle them were many ... topping the list was a large dollop of doubt that I'd be able to even enjoy my life apart from Will and away from the help of family. This led me to believe that all I could really hope for was to simply survive the seven months the best I could ... stay alive and healthy, keep the kids alive and happy, keep my head down, do my chores and wait for it to be over. These feelings included the thought and hope that people would be praying for us and that God would graciously help us through as well. I had never been through a deployment with children before and the last one I "lived" through was 5 months of mostly misery. I expected intense loneliness ... I envisioned a desert ... I saw days and nights full of tears and anguish, just trying to keep going ... I said in a previous post, "I feel like I believe that God could move an actual, physical mountain, more than I believe he can make deployment a happy time for me."

The only vision I know of to express the truth of what I actually feel most days, and realize overall, is that of a type of baptism ... where the sun has set on the thoughts and fears that I had, and has beautifully risen, still just on the horizon, with the reality and beauty that is still my life, even a life miles away from my love ... now I know He can move mountains because He did what I believed to be impossible during this time in my life ... He has made me glad.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

the night before

We've had a wonderful day today. We didn't do anything special, we just stayed together and played and worked and ran errands ALL ... DAY ... LONG. The boys played so well this morning while Will tried to finish some projects, then we all went out to run errands together. Then we came home, ate fast food and watched part of a movie together until bedtime. It was so nice just to spend all that time together. Ben napped in the car so he was fine and the boys did so well waiting and sitting at all the places we wanted to go. We've been so busy lately, I feel like I'm in a whirlwind and still barely keeping up with things. I'm hoping things will settle down soon and I can get the cluttered, messy, newly renovated house in order and finally clean. It's been a disaster area which has added to the mess in my brain. :) When I'm in a messy place, I don't think as straight or as clearly. I can't wait until my Mom gets here at the end of November to really help. She's an organizer extraordinaire with energy and drive to spare (and I wonder where Charley gets it ... she's also a lefty just like Charley, the only two on either side of the family). :)

Anyway, I thought today would be more rough than it has been, but we've enjoyed each other so much, and been so busy, that there just hasn't been time or reason to. So last thoughts before tomorrow are ... thankful that our neighbors are helping out with the kids so I can give Will a calm, proper goodbye tomorrow and not have to worry about them seeing me cry or running off somewhere (into the water) ... happy that other friends will be there to see him off too b/c I'll feel so surrounded by support and love ... tired because we have been up so late ... sorry that Will has been working so hard up until the last minute ... hopeful that we both can rest after tomorrow and start fresh on a new schedule (and that we don't get sick, again) ... and glad that the goodbyes will be over soon, and there will be only hellos to look forward to. :)

Thank you for your prayers tomorrow; we will really need them.

Friday, October 10, 2008

a day of dread, a day of hope

For the last few months, there's been a day I've been dreading ... October 12, deployment day. Every time I even thought about this impending day, I teared up and had to control myself to not bawl. Of course, sometimes (when it was appropriate) I would let myself just feel and experience the feelings of fear and grief and loneliness that I was experiencing. Lately, I've felt as this day is drawing near, the more I've focused on it, and the more I've also thought that maybe I was focusing on it too much. So during these last days, I've tried to pray for others and their struggles more. I've fallen asleep praying and thinking about them instead of crying for myself or dreading the future. On my short list right now ... my grandparents who are going through a life change with the arrival of a live-in caretaker while my grandfather recovers from a stroke, and my grandmother recovers from a dislocated shoulder ... a single Mom with two toddlers trying to be the best parent she can be to them while dealing with her own life issues (job changes, relationships, hope for the future, recovering from the past), a local friend with a newborn, learning how to balance two children and dealing with her father's struggle with cancer ... another local very pregnant friend on strict bedrest trying to make sure she doesn't go into labor too early, as well as dealing with how helpless she is as she longs to return to her normal tasks as a wife and mother.

I can still cry at the drop of a hat if I allow myself to think about this Sunday, but the odd thing is that once we get past this one day, I will immediately leave behind a day that I've been dreading and instead gain a day that I will look forward too for the next 7 months, Homecoming! It's odd that the same day I dread, will also be the beginning of the hoping phase of this journey. Yes, I'll still have difficult days with the boys and the pregnancy, but those days will happen randomly and without my prior knowledge rather than be pre-appointed days that I dread. More importantly, now I'll have a definite day to look forward too, as well as days in between when I've asked relatives to visit and help out.

Once I get past Sunday, I think I'll have a lot more days to look forward to, than not and SO... for that, I am ready for Will to leave and just get on with his deployment, and for us to get on with our lives. I'm ready to NOT dread a day and not cry when I think about it, not that there won't be other days of tears and frustration, but now, at the very least, I'll have a definite day to hope for, and more for that matter because I'll have the birth of my baby to look forward to as well. :) (although that's surrounded with mixed emotions because Will is most likely going to miss it and I can only hope that I have relatives in town when it happens because I'll be on my own). This only begins a long list of things that I am going to HAVE to learn to trust to the perfect planning and providence of God. It won't do me any good to fear or dread them, so I hope He can teach me to let Him take care of me, which might be difficult because I'm a planner. :)

With that in mind, I am so happy for the blessings He has already sent my way and for the providence He's given me, as I mentioned in my last post.

First, Will and I made a wonderful discovery upon our return to our Norfolk home in Ingleside ... new neighbors, great neighbors. They're a young, newlywed, Navy couple, without children, who love children, our children and who have offered to help me in any way they can. On top of that, the wife is an EMT and in training to be a nurse! (I've already asked her to drive me to the hospital if my family is not in town). :)

Second, I have a wonderful group of friends that I returned to at our church and in the area, here in Hampton Roads, including new friends who just moved here who have already been such a great help to us. It just so happens that our children were born within days of each other, we're both pregnant with our third (only a month apart) and I have the same birthday as the wife. I feel like we've been living parallel lives. :) Anyway, the husband has come over several days and nights to help Will fix up our home for me before he leaves, he's actually here right now. :) They have also offered help in any way I need it. I also have other wonderful friends who have watched the boys, or taken one to pre-school or picked them up so I could get to a doctors appointment or sign my will. :)

Third, I have found a wonderful girl to babysit for me a couple of times a week. She lives close and she loves kids and she's very good with mine. I'm so excited! On top of that, I have planned a schedule for family to visit every month or for me to go visit family. In fact, Will's Aunt is driving down from D.C. to help me fly to TX for Christmas with both our families and that is such a huge blessing!

Apart from the physical help of dealing with the boys and our lives day to day, I have a wealth of people praying for us and although I may place more emphasis on someone willing to watch my kids for a few hours, I know that the prayer is what will truly make the difference for us. So, I thank you ALL in advance for the prayers you send our way because they will be the prayers that sustain me when I'm mentally and emotionally overwhelmed ... they will be the prayers that find someone to help me when I need help ... and they will be the prayers that protect me, my children and my husband while we cannot be together.

I hope this beginning of a long list of blessings will be a brighter note during this interesting time for us and bless you as you remember that EVERY good gift comes from God.

Monday, October 06, 2008


I wanted to blog tonight, for once, in a month, or almost 2, but I'm just too tired. I just don't have time to do justice to the wealth of emotions, thoughts, blah, that is running through my head right now - just 7 short days before Will deploys for 7 long months. I feel like I am on a new planet from anything I've experienced emotionally in a loooong time. Ok, maybe just 4 years, since his last deployment, but now I have 2 kids and another on the way. Oh yeah, I forgot to blog about that, surprise blog world- I'm 11 weeks pregnant!! :) due April 22, just a few weeks before Will returns. These parts of my life fill thoughts and words and posts beyond what I'm capable of enscribing here tonight, but I know that I will, and need to for my sanity, soon.

For those of you wondering what I need or what you can do (hopefully there are some of you) :)
- please pray for us whenever we come to mind
- please randomly call me to say hi for no reason at all, other than human contact. I hate being alone and I rarely get phone calls, probably b/c most of my friends are busy Moms whom I already run in to at church or on Facebook, but for those of you who have the time, or can make a moment to spare (even if I just saw you at church), I know I'd appreciate it. (ps. you don't have to ask how I'm doing, just talk about anything) :)
- please forgive my mood swings ... any sarcasm, defensiveness, ungratefulness, self-deprication, denial, avoidence, fakeness (the one I hate the most), are all likely to represent during the next 7 trying months of my life, so I ask for your grace ahead of time while I vent to blogland.
- if I manage to blog during this crazy, busy time, I would appreciate any comments, encouraging or critical (can you tell I crave human interaction?) :)
- come visit me! :) or get together, especially on the weekends (which will turn into just another work day for me)

Meanwhile, I will be praying constantly that Divine interaction would fill me until I thirst no more. While I'm extremely emotional about this, I'm also extremely hopeful and full of faith that God can make this time sweeter than I could have dreamed. I know He doesn't promise that I won't struggle or reach my hypothetical limit, but I believe that when I do, He will be there to help me in ways that only He can. I pray also that I SEE these ways and don't miss them and become bitter at God for letting me hurt so much. I hope that I can have perspective about how blessed I am, all the while allowing myself to deal with things that are still difficult for me now.

I have already seen His hand moving and preparing a way for me. I know there is more He hasn't even revealed yet and I am anxiously looking forward to sharing that here and experiencing it with my boys and my friends.

Lord, please see us through.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

quick business :)

Alicia (US-Dallas), :) please send me your e-mail address again. I've been thinking about you and wanting to e-mail, but I can't find your address anywhere! I'd love to catch up sometime. Thanks, Leigh

Saturday, August 23, 2008

wow, it's been a month already!

(dedicated to Christianne for faithfully checking my blog, Thanks!) :)

I'm not promising anything incredible, just a simple update ... maybe something incredible later ... maybe :)

It's been a looong month. Will was gone for 3 weeks and then got back sometime during the first week of August. His parents came to visit for 5 days; that was fun. Time is flying, we've been so busy doing I have no idea what ... a little house hunting (to no avail), a lot of down time, a lot of family time, a lot of Olympic watching time, a lot of spending time with friends, trying to fix up the house, figure out what we want fixed, figure out who is going to fix what and when and for how much.

I've been tired missing lots of sleep from staying up too late watching the Olympics and some nights going to bed really early, only to be awaken several times in the night by my cute, but needy two year old wanting anything from water, to his "Gi-Gi" bear, to being covered up again, the list could go on. :) I don't know why he started this, but I hope it ends soon. I can usually go right back to sleep after the first time, but 1/2 hour to an hour later and the second time ... sometimes keeps me up for an hour or two even though I'm dead tired. I think I just get really woken up that second time and it gets my brain going and thinking and actually writing blogs that I will never post b/c I can't remember them. I wish I had a brain recorder that could just know what I'm thinking so I could type it up later. :) I could talk into, but I would wake Will up, maybe not, he's such a sound sleeper, I'm jealous.

Anyway, Yay for my husband for finally finishing our laminate floor. No more nasty, old carpet :) Of course now it's hard and I can SEE everything on it, but at least it's more sanitary (I think). I'm proud of him for doing it himself though! :) It took him awhile b/c he kept having to leave on the ship and had been working looong hours.

I'm really looking forward to the kids starting pre-school and a little sports class at the Y in the fall. We'll do gymnastics after that. I'm already thinking about sports that will be good for Charley's energetic, yet focused nature. After seeing how Phelps had ADD and swimming helped him, it got me thinking. Well, Charley doesn't have ADD, but certainly the energy. He even said he wanted to be like Michael Phelps and practiced doing the backstroke on our bed, so cute! :) He also ate 3 eggs!! the other morning. I couldn't believe it. We'll see what he enjoys. It will be an interesting road, but fun I think. Oh yeah, Charley is officially a Lego maniac. :) Yay! :) Will and I both love Legos! :) We're starting the "keep your legos picked up" lessons early so hopefully I won't be stepping on them for the next 10 years.

Ben continues in his most adorable stage yet. "Mommy, I good boy." "Mommy, I obey." "I sweet boy." "I share Chachy!" He's so talkative and oh so cute. I almost wish he wouldn't grow anymore. From his cute little fingers and nose, to his size and movements and cute keeps my heart overflowing daily.

I'm mostly enjoying Will being home for a longer stretch. He's even going to take some mandatory pre-deployment leave soon. We're going camping next weekend in the Shenendoah's and I think it will be gorgeous! I can't wait to let the boys run around and explore!

Oh yeah, my Mom got really sick with kidney stones recently ... it got so bad that her kidney was shutting down and she got sepsis (blood poisoning) and spent 5 days in ICU. But now she's out and doing so much better. She is attending our family reunion back in TX this weekend and I'm so sad we had to miss it. Anyway, thanks to all who prayed for her recovery.

Well, that's all for now. God's blessings abound even when I feel like I'm at the base of a huge mountain that I know I could never climb on my own ... His provisions for me during deployment are being revealed to me slowly, but surely and I am trying with all my, no, His might to continue to trust Him and lean on Him and even hope for a few miracles along the way (more on that later though). I'm trusting that deployment will not only be a fun, but a fruitful time for us all here at home. I'm not sure I even believe that it can happen now, but I believe that if I allow God to be in control, He can/will do it. Wow, I'm really trying to have that much faith. It's odd, I feel like I believe that God could move an actual, physical mountain, more than
I believe he can make deployment a happy time for me. ugh, well, He's not finished with me yet, there's hope, I'm still growing, and want to, and want to trust Him more. Thank you for all the prayers that are and will help me do that. I need it. We all need it at different time. Thanks for reading (and commenting). :) I hope to hug you soon and if I can't, I'm missing you. God bless.