Monday, December 3, 2012

Mama Bear

There is a Disney movie that came out last year called "Brave."  I love this movie for two reasons.  First, because it shows the strength of women. Secondly, because it illustrates the strongest emotion I have ever known.
In one of the final scenes, a mother (who has been transformed into a bear) is chained down to the ground so that she, in all her bear strength, cannot move.  Then, in a twist of action, a gigantic, freakishly ugly, mean bear races toward her daughter.  There is a moment where the mother bear's eyes grow large with the realization that her daughter is about to be killed.  Then, before you can blink, the mother bear, who could not even raise one paw under the weight of the chains, breaks every link in the restraints, battles the fierce bear with a ferocity and violence that causes fear in small children, and eventually outwits the behemouth as she crushes him beneath a giant boulder. 
By the end of this scene, I had tears streaming down my cheeks.  Never- never- have I cried at a Disney movie, but I cried in this one.  Why?  This movie shows the true strength of a mother.  If she is attacked by a stronger or braver opponent, she will die.  If her child is attacked, she will destroy the danger, no matter how big or strong.
This is the thing I know for certain.  God may not have embued me with great strength, ability, or imagination.  He may not have made me to rule governments or build companies.  He may not have made me as anything other than a puny, blonde-headed, school teacher, but he made me a mother.  And in so doing, He made me mightier than the mighty and braver than the brave.
I have always cherished my role as a mother.  I have always been willing to do for my children what I am not willing to do for myself.  I have always worked to care for them, even at the expense of my own well-being.  This is what mother's do.  This is what I want to do. 
During the last five years, my family has endured significant change.  We went from a traditional nuclear family to  a divorced family, and now my children have two families- one with mom and stepdad, and one with dad and stepmom.  It has been a roller coaster of emotions, as every time we all adjust to one lifestyle, another change occurs and we all have to redefine our roles.  It is rocky, it is frustrating, and so many days I just feel like bashing somebody's head into a rock (usually my own).  One of my major problems is that I believe there is a distinction between parent and stepparent.  There are many things that stepparents are great at, many things they are learning to do, and many activities that are wonderful for them to do with kids.  The problem is that there are many things that I don't like them doing with my kids.  I am the mom.  And I do not accept anyone else sharing that role (I also believe this about their father). 
Today, after my ex told me that I was being hateful and jealous of his wife (don't get me started on this one) because I do not want her to be the one taking my son to the doctor when he is sick, I stopped to meditate and see what my problem actually is.  This, of course, led me to the conclusion that I seem to end up at often, divorce never stops hurting.
I realized there were two reasons I did not want my son's stepmother to take him to a doctor's appointment.
First, I don't trust her.  I just don't.  Their father loves her and trusts her, which is good, but she is a virtual stranger to me, and in this divorced world, I am being asked to put my children's safety and well being into the hands of someone I do not know- which goes against all parenting instinct.
Secondly, I had to address the issues of hatred and jealousy.  I do not hate her, for I believe to hate someone you have to love them first.  But jealousy, that is different.  I realized I am jealous of one thing:  She has fifty percent of the time with my kids.  Time is everything.  This woman gets to spend fifty percent of my children's childhood with them, and I don't.  Damn skippy I'm jealous of that.  Those are my babies. That is my sick son who she is holding.  My son.  My blood, my tears, my bones, my years, my baby in someone else's arms. 
And there you have it.  Another woman, who I don't trust, is holding my sick son tonight.
And then, as I am frustrated with myself for feeling this anger, for not accepting the situation more gracefully, I think of that mama bear.  I think of how God created me.  He made me a mama bear.  He made me this way for a reason.  He made me to rage at someone I don't trust taking my child.  He made me to want to protect my child from the unknown.  He created me to protect, to comfort, and to nurture my son.
If I weren't upset about this, I wouldn't be what God made me to be.  I am supposed to be a mama bear.  And what our society is doing, what I have done to myself by getting a divorce, is to try to stop that mama bear instinct.  I have to overcome it. 
On the one hand, this makes me less frustrated that I feel this way.  This is how God intended me to be.
On the other hand, this makes me more frustrated that I feel this way.  It is so unfair to all of us.
And after this discovery, after the tears that will not end, after the rage that consumes my mind, after I have made myself sick with the grief of it all,  after all of this-  my son is still hurting.  My son still needs me.  My son is still in another woman's arms.
And the mama bear dies a little inside me. 
Does this make me a better mom?  Does this make me less of a mom?
And the mama bear roars in agony
and slinks back to her cave
to mourn
to rage against the walls
where only she will hear
the echoes of her breaking heart.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Dyslexia

My son is strong,
My son is kind,
My son loves animals,
And babies, and outside.
My son is funny,
And my son is dyslexic.

My son loves to run,
My son loves to ride
On bikes, and horses,
and tractors, and bulls.
My son is outgoing,
And my son is dyslexic.

My son is loving,
My son is courageous,
My son likes to hear stories on tape,
And stories I make up.
My son loves to snuggle,
And my son is dyslexic.

My son is unique,
My son is smart,
My son is a good friend,
and brother, and son.
My son is creative,
And my son is dyslexic.

My son hates to read,
My son hates to spell,
My son is terrible at sounding out words,
with letters, with books.
My son loves to learn,
And my son is dyslexic.

My son is amazing,
Dynamic and charming.
My son is a ray of light in my life.
He is going to be successful he tells me.
My son is dyslexic,
And my son will succeed.

em

Saturday, October 27, 2012

My daughter, my swimmer

My daughter competed in  a swim meet today. 
We have done this before, several times.
But always, always, there comes a moment
when I am awed, inspired, amazed
at the wonder of this daughter of mine.
Today was no different
I watched her, as I sat on the timers' bench (a front row seat)
She stood beside her teammates, lined up
ready to take her turn to climb up the step
onto the platform, and dive in.
I watched her standing there,
tall, thin, fair-skinned
in her yellow and black swimsuit
her shiny black swim cap snug on her head
her last name bolded in white capital letters on the side
her goggles, white straps around her head, blue-framed on her forehead,
her hands twisting back and forth, her arms swinging
stepping from foot to foot
as she tried to get the blood pumping,
her nervous energy used to rev up
she cheered her teammate on,
she took the steps to the top and leaned forward,
bouncing on the balls of her feet
her arms never stopping their swaying motion
the judge looked at my daughter and I saw her through his eyes-
a competitor, an athlete-
my baby girl, my katie may
my eyes filled with tears
as my heart filled with pride
there was my daughter-
a young woman
a competitor
an athlete chasing her dreams
fulfilling mine.
em





Friday, October 26, 2012

Dreams and courage

  On a day like today, when I am feeling down on myself and wishing I were more outgoing, more friendly, more creative, more talented, more sociable, more patient, etc., I find myself aimlessly wandering facebook and blogger.  I find myself reading a blog by a friend who is wishing she had the courage to live the life she wants.
And then, I realize, I have courage.  And finally, my depressing and pitiful mood changes as I realize that I am courageous.  I may not be achieving all my goals, and I may not have changed the world yet, but I am not done.  I may need to be more- (insert something here)- but I am many good things.
One of the things I often find myself doing is dreaming up new goals, new ideas, new things to do and places to go to add to my list. And, as I think about it, I realize that I don't make "wish lists", I make "to do" lists.  SO, I am going to torture you (if you continue to read) with some of these endless lists I keep in my brain.
Things I have done:
I am there for my children every day that I possibly can and be there for them every time they do something amazing, every time they fall, and support them in everything they do.  My current mission:  I will be at every horse show my children compete in with their drill team.  I will not miss a single swim meet of my daughter's.  I will not miss my boys getting Scout medals, pins, belt loops, or patches.  I will be there.
I want to help couples become families. I am at two families, three babies so far, and I am not done yet.
I want to live a life where I can be me. I spent many years in a world where it wasn't safe to be me, so I make sure that I am being true to myself.
I want to spend my life with a man who loves me and supports me in all these wild adventures I want to have. I am.  He does.

Things I am doing on my "to do" list:
I want to travel the world.  I am, slowly, but surely, travelling every time an opportunity presents itself.
I want to have a beautiful home to share with my husband, my children, and more children.  I have a nice one, but I am looking for a new one every day.
I want to give my children everything I had that was beautiful and good, and everything I didn't have that I think they should have.  I am doing my best every day to give them those things.

It is sometimes mind-boggling to try to keep up with all the plans I make in my head every day.  I want to do so much more than I am:
I want to get in shape and be able to run a marathon like my father has.
I want to foster or adopt children in need.
I want to open a crisis pregnancy center with no political or religious view- just helping girls do whatever is best for them.
I want to be an advocate for surrogacy.
I want to be a CASA (Court appointed special advocate for children)
I want to be an advocate for gay rights, equality, and marriage.
I want  to write a novel, but can't seem to wrap my head around the right topic.
I want to stand as an example of Christ so clearly that His love can be shown through my actions.

It is not enough for me to be mediocre.  It is not enough for me to have simply lived.  It will not be enough, at the end of my travail on this earth, to say, "life was good."  I want more.

I want, quite simply, to change the world.

I just need to find a way to do it during the course of the day where we:
Wake up
Take K to swim
Come home, get ready for work
Kiss boys and husband, go to work
Work all day (this should really be about 12 lines with work capitalized)
Pick up K
Come home to T and B
Homework, papers, read notes, read novels with children (Or run all over town to activities, depending on the day)
Make dinner
Clean up
Run around town to all of our activities (or do homework, check and sign papers, read novels with children)
Come home, get ready for bed
Read with my children / Watch a family show together
Collapse in exhaustion and go to sleep
Repeat

I feel like the man in the famous poem by Robert Frost, "but I have miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep."
Life is short.  I have my oldest child for only 3 1/2 more years.  There is no time to live in doubt or fear.  There is no time to wait for the right time.  There is only time to enjoy every moment because- I have learned at least this one lesson- you only get it once.  No moment ever returns the same way twice.  I love my life.  It is my life and I choose it every day.  I may lack many things, but I am no coward.  I will never back down when I can step forward.  I embrace this life, the challenges, the smiles, the sorrows, the blessings, and I plan to live every moment of it with gusto.
Courage.  It's everything.  And after many years, it is mine.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The results are in...

So, I had forgotten all about my previous post about heading out to Guatemala.  I have been home for almost a month now and been busy with life- as usual.  It is only now as I look at my blog that I remember vaguely...
I went to Guatemala with a heart full of love and hope.  I was not disappointed.
My team was a group of ten people, only one whom I already knew (my friend Denise).  There was a couple and their daughter who is only a year older than my own daughter, a couple and their daughter who is about my age, a young man, and a young woman- all of whom have a deep and abiding faith in God and in service.  These people, who started out strangers, became a family to me this week and taught me things I needed to know and reminded me of things I had forgotten.  I know they were put in my life for a purpose, and I am so grateful for each one of them.
We arrived in and drove through Guatemala City quickly and within an hour had arrived in Antigua.  It is a beautiful, old city with volcanoes around it.  The properties are all enclosed in walls, so the roads abruptly end at tall walls and the city is hard to see- except central, open areas for some churches and parks.  We ended up staying not at the team house, but at a bed and breakfast type home.  It was beautiful and cool and peaceful and I could have stayed forever!
We spend Sunday in a market, purchasing supplies for our trip down to the village, and worshipping at Iglesia del Camino (church of the road).  We sang songs in Spanish and English all at once and listened to dual-pastors share the message.  The song Guia Me El Cruz (Lead Me to the Cross) will always remind me of this trip and the beauty of celebrating God's love through music.  I think this was the moment that I started to feel His love again.  I didn't want the song to end; I wanted it to play forever and continue to fill me with joy.
We headed out Sunday evening for Hotel 6 in La Maquina, the area we would be serving in.  We waved goodbye to the cool weather and comfortable housing, and headed down toward the coast.  La Maquina is not quite to the coast, so we didn't go all the way to the ocean, but we did drive for about four hours.  The hotel is very modest.  Three of us ladies shared a room with three twin beds, three big fans and two small fans, ventilation in the tops of the wall and a window, and a bathroom with one knob in the shower with one little pipe sticking out of the wall- the cold water shower.  Mind you, I did not say the words air conditioning or window unit.  These things do not exist where we were.  And the initial horror of no hot water ends abruptly after a day in hot and humid weather.  The cold water shower was the blessed end to every day of heat.  I don't know that I will ever be so grateful for a cold water shower again!
We spent Monday through Friday in a village called Linea C-6.  The villages are all spread down a main road (the line), and each line is given a letter (C) and each village is given a number (6).
We built the well at the Asemblia del Dios (Assembly of God) church, so that all people would have access.  The drilling team spent the week drilling the well.  I, along with two other ladies and our hygiene leader (an awesome lady named Blanca), went into the school (K-6) to teach the children every morning.  We taught them about washing their hands, brushing their teeth, keeping their food safe, and taking care of the well.  We played with them at recess and we held their hands while we talked.  We made salvation bracelets with them and acted out Bible stories.  We were silly and we were honest.  We were loving and we were friendly.  We fell in love with these kids!
We spent our afternoons teaching the ladies of the village the same lessons we taught the children.  They were sweet women and had such a sense of community.
The entire time in the village was amazing.  These people that we, as Americans, look at as being poor, needy, third world, and lacking- these people, taught us about community, kindness, laughter, hope, and peace.  Their lives are simple in worldly things, but their hearts are full of friendship, patience, and faith.  A few scenes that stick out in my mind:
  • Our first day in the village, the four of us who composed our hygiene team went walking through the village with a guide in order to invite the women to the church for the lessons.  At most homes, we were invited to sit down and the hostess would not be satisfied until we did.  At most homes, the outside rooms with dirt floors were swept so the lines of the broom showed that it was a well-cared for home. 
  • Our team went down to the river Samala one day.  It is the river the entire area is named for, and we loaded up in the back of a pick up truck with a few of the men and a few of the boys, and took off.  When the drivable road ended, we walked through cow fields and crossed several small rivers (I think I counted 10) to get to the big river.  It was beautiful and we played in it.  We sat on the bank and played with the kids in the sunshine.  When we returned, we were an hour late for our meeting with the women.  I ran up to them- covered in mud and water as I was- and apologized in my poor Spanish for being so late because we had been at the river.  The women smiled at me, and one woman asked, "Isn't it beautiful?"  I said yes, and we carried on. 
  • During a lesson with the women one day, I noticed a mother and daughter using sign language.  After the lesson, I went to ask if they signed.  It turns out that the daughter is deaf and has been educated at a school for the deaf.  Her sign language is different than ASL, but we worked around that.  I told her we had a young man on our team who was hard of hearing, and went over to see if he knew sign.  He didn't, but another team member was sitting next to him who works with a group that provides hearing aids to people!  He had a great talk with the girl, Keyla, and her family.  I was able to translate between Adam (our team member) and Keyla's parents.  I was able to speak Spanish and convert it into sign (which I had to translate in my head from English to Spanish) and translate back to English as Adam told them he would work on getting her hearing aids.  I was then able to, the next day, stand there and translate that he was able to promise hearing aids for Keyla.  Coincidence?  I just happened to look at these women in a moment of signing, David (our team member who is hard of hearing) just happened to be sitting by Adam, and a hard of hearing man, a woman who signs, and a man who provides hearing aids, all just happened to be on the same mission trip?  This was a God moment. 

I learned so many things from the people in this village.  I spent four days focused on serving these people- my brothers and sisters- and giving all that I had.  My days taught me patience, humility, kindness, love, and gratitude.  I learned how to see people as Christ does, and truly SEE them.
I spent four nights praying and having devotional with my team and discussing what we learned that day over dinner.  My nights taught me faith, hope, forgiveness, and friendship. 
We left the village Thursday afternoon amidst hugs with our friends and tears from the children.  I have a family in Guatemala now, and I will hold the people of Linea C-6 in my heart forever.
We went to an orphanage, Amor del Nino (Love of Children) on Friday morning.  I played with children, held sick infants, and fed two month old babies their formula.  I toured the orphanage and saw a place full of love.  The nineras work 7 day, 12 hour week shifts for these children.  I was amazed at how many kids there were.  No matter how much love these women have, it is not enough for the 50 kids they are trying to care for.  I just held babies all morning.  I couldn't leave.  Every time I got up and put down a child, someone else would cry.  It was as if their little voices were just pleading, "what about me?"... "please pick me".  I loved every minute I spent there.  I did not cry as we left as I thought I would, but my heart was full of love for these children and I realize that I love children.  Period. 

Now, to the big question.  Did I find renewed faith?  Did I find God through serving others? 
Let me share a few more experiences:
  • Liz, one of my roommates, told me, "you were put on this path for a reason.  This is part of the journey God has for you."
  • After my devotional, when I shared some of my life with the team and cried as I sometimes do, Ken (our team leader), pulled a chair into the center of the group, where I sat wide-eyed, as everyone formed a circle around me, put their hands on me, and several of them prayed.  It was not a blessing as I am accustomed to- but there were prayers sent up from a group of people who were my family that week.  There were words sent up to God from the lips of the faithful on my behalf.  And I felt God's love.
  • I went to Guatemala with the difficult choice of allowing my children to go live with their father every other week.  I kept this pain at bay, and every time I thought of it, I just said, "God, I can't take this one.  I need you to take it now."  And the pain would leave immediately. 
  • Every night, I heard the testimony of someone in my team.  I saw what we did every day, and I heard and felt how it impacted each of us every night.
  • For much of the trip, the song "A Window to His Love" played in my head.  I was to be a window to the pure love of Christ, and I was able to see Him because of it.
  • I had scriptures I hadn't thought of in years pop into my head while having conversations with my team members.
In short, I felt God in my life more powerfully than I have in a long time.  The weight of deciding if  should let the kids go live with their dad every other week left me.  I knew that I needed to let them go.  God made this answer for me, handed it to me, and carries the weight of the pain- when I let him.  I am far from being the devout Mormon woman I once was.  I don't know that I will ever find absolute trust in a religion again.  But my faith in God is absolute.  The answers, the safety, the pure joy of His love has renewed my faith.  When I decided to stop questioning and just believe, I was able to see Christ again as my Savior, my brother, and my path to God.  When I just stop and believe, I am filled with a peace that I have missed so much. 
I believe, as strongly as ever, that it is in serving others that we serve ourselves.  The pathway to God is in following the example of Jesus Christ.  It is not a narrow path to Heaven, but a straight and purposeful one. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Guatemala, yes. A mission trip, well...

I am leaving tomorrow to go to Guatemala.  It is a trip that I had not planned to go on, a trip that I just kept thinking about (thanks Denise), and finally decided to go on only three weeks out.
I am excited to see a new country, meet Guatemalans, and try new food.  I am hopeful that I can help change the lives of the people in the village we will go to. 
I am hopeful that we can bring them a well that provides water- clean, pure, drinkable water, and teach them how to use proper hygiene skills.  Mostly, I am hopeful that we can love them, serve them, and learn from them. 
I am terrified of contracting malaria, getting nasty diarrhea, or being assaulted by gangs (thank you dad for pointing out that Guatemala is home to the most violent gang on earth!). 
I am afraid that I am not strong enough to endure a week without air conditioning, seeing poverty to an extreme I have never been exposed to, and, finally, I am afraid of my heart breaking when I go to the orphanage we will visit to take supplies to.

I really had to think about going on this trip because it is, in fact, a mission trip.  These people that I am going to be travelling with are going in the name of Christ, to serve as His body and do His work.  I had to ask myself if it would be okay for me to go, since I don't know much about faith anymore.  When I filled out the application, I looked at the box with "name of your church" for several minutes before leaving it blank.  I don't have a church. 
When I came to the blank asking me for my covenant statement, I didn't know what to write.  What do I believe?  What is my testimony?  What can I honestly say about my beliefs?  I wrote something to the effect of,  "I want to follow the example of Jesus Christ in serving and loving other people."  I figured that, regardless of the reality of Jesus Christ, His is still an amazing example to follow.  I figured that would be enough.
What I have noticed these last few weeks though, is that it is not enough.  I have realized that, deep down and climbing further to the surface each day, is a belief that if I go with an open heart and do His work, that God will talk to me once more.  That if I serve Him, and share His love, then I will feel His love again.  That if I give enough of myself to others, that He will restore to me the part of Him I once held in my heart.  This is what I pray for- that in bringing God to others, they will bring God back to me.
I fear it is a wasteful hope.  I fear that I will feel only emptiness and an even deeper loss, but I hope.  I hope that I am still worth the gift of His love.

Does this make me selfish?  Probably. 
But here's hoping anyway.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The baby is here

The moment is perfect- as if it were straight out of a movie:  My children walk into the hospital room.  They see their beautiful new baby sister from the doorway.  The baby is pink and chubby, snuggled into the crook of her mother's arm.  Her father stands beside the bed, leaning over the white sheets to lay one hand on his wife's shoulder and another on his newborn daughter's cheek.  My children are overwhelmed with excitement as they race up to the edge of the bed.  Their smiles grow so broad their faces look like they are about to burst.  My children start talking all at once- how cute she is, who will hold her first, all of the giddy comments of a new-made brother or sister.
I, of course, am not in the room.  I, of course, am walking down the hall, tears filling my eyes.  Down the elevator, across the parking lot, and into the car.  It is there that the tears begin to fall.  It is there that the weight of the moment hits me.  My children are bonding with their family- and I am not in the room. 
Another consequence of divorce.  Another piece of my heart gone.  Another ache that must be forever hidden from my children. 
Divorce never stops hurting.   

Monday, July 16, 2012

When I grow up

When I grow up
I want to be pure Spirit
So I can be everywhere
I will watch my children and hold them in arms of love
They will feel my warmth and care
I will soar to hospitals
And heal the heart of grief
I will float through school houses
And hold the hand of children lost
I will fly throughout this world
And share the gift of love and peace
I will do the work of Angels
I will spread the love of God
I will know who is in need
I will make weak souls stronger
And I will bring hope to the despairing
I will complete my life this way
And when I need His love
I will beam myself to Heaven
And sit in company of Gods.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

But

When I was a little girl
My momma took me to church
and I learned the names for God and Jesus
I learned all the songs and how to pray
They told me to love my Heavenly Father
and I would be happy and go to heaven

So,
I am a child of God
God is love
And families are forever
I understand,  okay

When I was eight they baptized me
One dunk, and I was purified
They laid hands upon my head
and gave me the gift of the Holy Ghost
They promised His spirit would go with me
as long as I lived the way they said

But
I am a child of God
God is love
And families are forever
so that's okay

When I was a teenager
I didn't know if I believed them
I sometimes didn't do what they said
I was told I just had to repent
and I could be clean again
they always forgave me, and it was enough

But
I am a child of God
God is love
And families are forever
so that's okay

When I was a young adult
I lost my way entirely
I didn't believe them, they didn't care
I was pregnant and eighteen
They said get married, it will be okay
I pretended to believe them, and they let me stay

But
I am a child of God
God is love
And families are forever
so that's okay

When I was a young mother
I went back to the church
I took my baby girl, and then my baby boys
My children learned the names for God and Jesus
My children learned the songs, the prayers
And I believed we would reach heaven together

And
I am a child of God
God is love
And families are forever
and we'll be okay

When I was fully grown
I went to church each week, I served the people in my ward
I taught my children all their stories
I loved God and Jesus and I prayed
I believed what they said- most of it
And when I didn't, I convinced myself to overlook it-

But
I am a child of God
God is love
And families are forever
so that's okay

When I went through a terrible divorce
I went to church for guidance, for help
Nobody had time to talk to me, to comfort me
I was alone with three small children
So I turned to God and prayed and wept
I couldn't think of a reason they left me alone-

But
I am a child of God
God is love
And families are forever
so that's okay

When I was a wayward woman
The bishop pulled me in (he had found some time)
He told me that I was not forigven
He told me I was outcast
He ripped my heart out of my chest
He turned my soul to blackened ash
Repentance and forgiveness lost-

But
I am a child of God
God is love
And families are forever
so that's okay

em

Love. (See the period there?)

As a gestational surrogate (surrogate mother), I am often assailed with questions about how I could do this to my body, my family, yada yada.  The only answer I have is:  love.  When I see somebody hurting, I want to help.  When I see a woman/man/family that can not grow, it breaks my heart. 
When I realize how easily I could help them fix that, how can I say no? 
If you saw a wounded child on the side of the road, how could you not help them?
Would it matter if that child were your own?  Would it matter if that infertile woman was your sister?  Sadly, it would. 
And then I think of all of the other ways in which we, as a society, do not show love.  When we hate people because of their race, their religion, their gender, their sexual preference.  And I realize that even though we claim to love each other, we pretty much pick and choose who we want to love.
And then I get angry.
I was raised by a mother (and, I must give credit, a religion) that taught me to love everyone.  I was taught that every single human being is a child of God, regardless of anything else, and that was the most important thing.  I was taught "Jesus said love everyone".  I never thought to question that statement.  I love everyone.  Well, I don't love everyone, honestly, there are people I really don't like.  But I don't like them for personal reasons, not for anything silly like the color of their eyes.
I didn't realize at the time that most people teach "love everyone" to their children, and then, through their actions, teach their children who "everyone" really is.  Luckily for me, my mother really did love everyone, so I never learned how not to love everyone.
As I have grown, my view has changed on many things.  I don't know that I even know what God is anymore, so I don't know how well I can connect everything to Jesus, but I do know that whatever you believe God is- whether He is a She, Mother Earth, a pantheon of gods, a spirit that lives in each of us, the power of our own minds, the collective spirit of all living things, whatever- that that God is love. 
I no longer prescribe to any specific religious views.  The only principle that I really prescribe to is love.
I am going to love everyone I can. 
When I look at people- it will be through the eyes of love.
When I vote- it will be through the eyes of love.
I am totally, completely, undeniable, and irrevocably imperfect.  I  make bad choices all the time, but I live with them, and when I can fix them and apologize to those I hurt, I do.  I say stupid things all the time- and I apologize all the time as well (my husband perhaps may disagree, but overall...)

I guess the point to this entire rant of mine (written while some Indiana Jones movie plays and my husband and father in law chat in a decidedly distracting manner) is to convey my frustration with all the time our society spends on issues like immigration, racial equality, gender bias, gay rights, and so many other "people" issues.  We are all people.  Can we just put our common humanity above the many differences between us?  Can we not just look on one another in the way my mother taught a young and innocent me?
It's all about love people, it's all about love.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My grandmother

My grandma Mary died on Saturday.  She wasn't my biological grandma; she was technically my step grandmother.  But that sounds so ridiculous, don't you think?  In my heart, and in hers, she is my grandma.  Since I was ten years old, she has loved me, fed me, hugged me, taught me, and laughed with me.  She accepted me from the first moment I walked into her home.  When my daughter Katie was born, a relative stated that my Katie "wasn't really the first grandchild".  My grandma said, "oh yes, she is." 
When my son was born, my grandma flew down to visit.  She laid down on the couch with that baby, and she sang and cooed to him for so long I thought they would both fall asleep.
On the day she died, I felt so empty, so helpless and pitiful.  So, my daughter and I went and bought a beautiful candle and a candle holder.  We lit it in rememberance of our beloved grandma. 
I lit the candle
It was golden and beautiful
As I looked into it's flame
I realized that my grandma was a light
She taught us a love of good cooking
She taught us a love of travel
She taught us to live each day with joy
She taught us to chase our dreams
She taught us how to laugh
She taught us to be strong women
She taught us to stand up for our beliefs
She taught us how to embrace every day like it were the only one
She taught all of this by her example
She didn't just tell us stories
She lived them!
My grandma is a light
People were drawn to her because she shared that light
And now that light lives on
in the hearts of all she touched
We carry on her flame
it will never grow out.
As she dances with my grandpa Jack tonight, we remember not the darkness of her passing, but the bright, unending light she passed on to all of us.
Her flame grows brighter still.

Oh dear lady, how I miss you and love you.  I will hold you in the light and you will live forever in my heart and in the hearts of my children.  Three generations call you blessed, and generations to come will shine with the light you have left to us.