Morning by Morning (7/29/16)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Watching Ryan play with a Mr Potato Head.  Closing the generation gap, one misplaced eye or hand at a time!
  2. Watching my parents be really great grandparents. They have been great with Ryan and so gentle and caring with him.  They have played with the hose, cars, a mini fire truck, gone to the park, played baseball off the tee, and enjoyed snacking together.  Makes my day!
  3. Being able to participate in Amanda and Keven’s wedding.  They are a beautiful couple that believe really reflect bring “kids at heart.”
  4. Seeing Ryan’s hair curls!
  5. Beautiful California, even when it is hot. 

Happy Anniversary Elana!

3 years today.  Wow.

  I am grateful for our three years, since it has included being challenged and blessed, encouragement and discouragement, ups and downs, great joys of a new child and great lows with outside influences.  We have enjoyed the laughter and blessing of Ryan and Aiden, great family, trips to California and a great church around us. We have had a mix of emotions and experiences but we still strive to be partners through it all. But there is something about our marriage which reminds me constantly of the cost and reward of our love.  Thank you for your patience and your beauty and your love.  The poem below is from Maya Angelou and I dedicate it to you:

Touched By An Angel

We, unaccustomed to courage

exiles from delight

live coiled in shells of loneliness

until love leaves its high holy temple

and comes into our sight

to liberate us into life.

Love arrives

and in its train come ecstasies

old memories of pleasure

ancient histories of pain.

Yet if we are bold,

love strikes away the chains of fear

from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity

In the flush of love’s light

we dare be brave

And suddenly we see

that love costs all we are

and will ever be.

Yet it is only love

which sets us free.

Morning by Morning (7/25/16)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. The recent meditations I have been doing as part of a training for work.  I am quite grateful for the attentiveness to thought and body, and the focus not on silence/no thought, but on awareness of thought and self.  Yesterday’s little yoga meditation felt pretty good.
  2. A very delicious even though leftover steak from Perry’s Steakhouse.  Thanks Mikey for the really good 6 oz of ribeye! (Which I ate aside an awesome salad for you vegetarians)
  3. My parents excitement to see Ryan and I.  They called to talk about the best snacks for Ryan and preparing our room for us. They love their grandson so much!
  4. The nurses who really love on our families and become their advocates (one RN approached very gracefully on the weekend to advocate and share needs for a family).  They are such blessings!

Strength in a Suffering Family

What is strength?

Is it being able to lift crazy amounts of weights and pull busses?

Is it being able to jump higher and throw harder or carry a bigger burden for a team?

Is it being able to overcome a disease or get healed because of your studly response to medications?

Is it being able to bear burdens?

These may all be true, but because of my hospital work I ask it differently.

Is it a 15 year old boy whose body is failing  and yet manages to smile, joke, laugh, love lemons and billy goat, and love his family more than anything in the world?

Is it a teenager whose brain tumor will win but whose prayer life and giftedness for music and learning rise above anyway?

Is it a father and brothers who move their own son and brother to the morgue and carry him to his morgue stretcher because why would anyone else do this for their beloved?

Is it a parent who says “Thank God for him/her” and yet still acknowledges that the pain of grief is still there?

I can’t help but find strength in those last questions.  They are in fact reality in the last week and beautiful, moving portraits of strength in its real meaning.  Strength can be physical sure, but the purest strength I’ve found is the resilient variety. Strength that takes the adversity and deals with it through beauty, laughter, gratitude, and even brutal honesty.  It’s strength that overcomes because it refuses to give the last word to death, suffering, and pain.  Strength is the straining and striving to define a life by ones personality and not their circumstances.

Thus, to the teenager who I have been referring to, when he took his last breath yesterday, strength was found not in muscle or healing, but in a resilient smile, an ever present family, a proud father, and a family who chose to see more blessing in his life than loss in his death.  To that kid and family, strength is found in faith in Christ and faith in their unbounded love.  To that kid and his family, death did not overcome.  Death hurts, but it did not overcome.  No, the boy did, because his spirit remains powerful and inspiring and comforting.  The family did, because their boy isn’t forgotten and their love is resilient.  

Strength is resilience, even in the presence of fear, suffering, and death.

Strength is Caleb and his family.

Morning by Morning (7/20/16)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Some delicious sautéed mushroom stuffed acorn squash for dinner last night.  Yummy!
  2. Seeing the Astrodome every time I go into work.  I am old enough to remember some of its glory and some of the great days it had with Biggio and Bagwell as youngsters.
  3. Ryan “earning” his first dollar yesterday by helping the guys who did the mulch and work on our front flower beds, albeit with his Radio Flyer tiny wagon and beach sand shovel. It was so cute to see our guy thank him and give him a dollar!
  4. Cooler than blazing weather recently. Thank God for just a couple days of change of pace weather.

Morning by Morning (7/18/16)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. A good weekend of disc golf for me.  I loved being outside during the heat and playing well too.  And really, nothing beats a birdie on the final hole right?!?!
  2. Ryan learning to play baseball!​​​
  3. Wonderful cooling rains yesterday.
  4. Seeing Aiden briefly on Friday and his quick but welcomed “Bye James, I love you.”  I love him too.
  5. Elana’s willingness to assess foster/adoption agencies for us.  

Morning by Morning (7/13/16)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Transplants of any variety.  Last night I visited with a kid before a probably lung transplant, and the chance at new life, a new beginning, a wide open future…that is indeed an unbelievable blessing.
  2. Sr Maria Caisido who is a helpful and skilled CPE resident that is doing some of her clinical work in the PICU.  She is amazing, conscientious, and fearless I believe. Thank God for her help!
  3. Holding Ryan last night. Background- long day at work, left late, got caught in awful traffic on train and in the car so I spent an hour and a half getting home.  Got home and spent 15 min with Ryan.  Elana got my mother in law to watch Ryan so we could have a relaxing dinner- so when I was offered to put Ryan to bed, I flew home because I missed him and wanted to hold him so bad. I actually held him to sleep and well after sleep, singing over him and telling him I loved him.  It was a good way to de-stress from the day.

Morning by Morning (7/12/16)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Ryan trying to say “lawnmower.” It’s super cute!
  2. The prophetic writings of Amos.  Full of judgment for a nations behavior towards the poor, immigrant, and widow, it is a judgment and call that I find pertinent for our world now.  I am grateful, though uneasily humbled since I am included, for Gods cry to serve and love those on the margins and powerless.  
  3. Stephanie Glass, another great and sweet RN in the PICU.  She is very gentle and caring for those families and kids.  Happy birthday Stephanie!
  4. Having good people who care for Ryan and Aiden on a daily basis, including my parents, my mother and father in law, Elias and Maddie, and friends at church.

Embracing A Future I Can’t Control

​Children.  In some ways, as Dickens would have it, is the best of times and the worst of times.  There are moments that sweet, heart-full, beautiful and over the moon joyful moments when your child first walks or tries to say Amen or develops their own hilarious personality. But alas, there are also moments that are heart wrenching, stress laden, sleepless, and quite senseless as you watch your child melt down over the smallest things or climbing up ovens or waking twenty times in the night or trying to load the washer again with every piece of cloth within a two mile radius.  

Joyful and exhausting. Meaningful and stressful.  Worth it and questionable sometimes (just kidding…well…maybe). But being a parent has been overall amazing and such a great blessing for me. It’s a blessing because there is something about this quote below that is true:

“Having a baby is to embrace a future you can’t control.”

    – Parent from a podcast (will update when I find out exact one)

It is a sheer blessing in its unpredictability, it’s ability to matchless in moments unplanned and uncontrolled.  I am a more laid back, easy going person so having a lack of control doesn’t bother me too much.  But what I did not expect is the power in that moment that I did not or could not expect.  There is so much power and allure to that moment my child shrieks in joy at some random act, or their unbelievably awesome hug, or just playing with him with a hose or bat.  I never know what will come, but I couldn’t plan better if I tried. 
Sure, embracing anything uncontrolled means I have days that I don’t play disc golf, or never make it to work because Ryan or Aiden are sick. Sure, it means there are times where I don’t get what I want.  Those all happen and more.

But this is the catch.  If I really do my homework on myself, what I really want is not to embrace a future I can’t control, but to embrace a present full of possibility.  It’s not control I want, but possibility.  This is just me, so I can’t speak for others. But I thrive knowing and hoping that any moment, any day or year, can have more than enough beauty, more than enough laughs, more than enough wildness, more than enough awesomeness to outweigh everything else and even make me forget about the other stuff. It takes courage to embrace a future you can’t plan, and fortitude to accept a life with little control.  But it takes love embrace each moment with my kids.  That is worth it. 

(P.S. I believe this is analogous to our journey of faith in Christ too!)

Morning by Morning (7/11/16)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Last night, Ryan was being dramatic and put his head on the edge of his bed instead of getting in. I took the opportunity to kneel down over him and took his hands in mine and said the Lord’s Prayer.  He stayed there and kept his hands in mine in prayer form and said his limited version of amen.  Then he got into bed and the night was done. It was very sweet and moving to me.
  2. A good discussion at our church Care Group.
  3. For Stanley finding and having a part time job, and hopefully finding more work.  Praise God for his finding something to sustain him.  He is also a very good and very faithful man.