December 20, 2010

Welcome ICWL friends!

I am so glad you have chosen to stop by. Isn't ICWL great? This month has been a bit hectic between Christmas coming and our ten year anniversary of marriage, so the last couple of weeks I have fallen behind on blogging.

So, needless to say I was not prepared for your visits! But, I thought to give you a few suggestions of my favorite postings so you can read what I consider the creme de la creme of this blog. Here they are:

"Contestamos"

Not Just Any Ordinary Moment

This is FAMILY!

Do you really want to know?

The Measure of a Man

About Time

I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

Again, thank you for stopping by and I will be sure to check out your wonderful stories as well.

"See" you around!

December 10, 2010

Dear Pier One...

Dear Pier One,
I saw a commercial you aired a few days ago. Your new slogan for Christmas ornaments is “D├ęcor that speaks to you.” The commercial encouraged us to buy new Christmas decorations if the ones we have no longer speak to us.
Tonight, after my husband and kids finished trimming and decorating and generally having a blast, I assessed our artificial tree and smiled at the horrified look I would get from your “experts” on what Christmas should look like.
This is our second tree. Our first one was a small, beautiful, pre-lit, used one that we set it up on the reception hall of our wedding chapel. Since we got married the week before Christmas we asked our friends to bring to the wedding one ornament to help us decorate our first tree. And they did. By the end of the night the little scrawny tree was glittering like any of the proudly displayed on your storefront. It was a joy to behold, mainly for all the love and good wishes it held in each branch in the shape of an ornament.
We still have those ornaments and have added many more over the ten years of our marriage. I don’t know about the ornaments you sell in your store. To be honest, I have never even been inside one because I can’t afford most of what you sell, but I do know that I don’t need to buy your decorations. My ornaments not only speak to me, they also touch me and tell me stories.
There is the silver disco ball we gave away as wedding favors and the snowman figures we gave our wedding party. They speak about the promise we made that day before so many witnesses to be together in sickness and in health, in poverty and in wealth, in the good times and in the bad times and about the people who honored us by standing next to us as we made our vows to the Lord and to each other.
There is the one we bought on our honeymoon in New Orleans the night we saw Harry Connick Sr. (the famous Junior’s dad) playing in a hole in the wall where I sipped on a virgin strawberry daiquiri that turned out not to be virgin after all. This one reminds me of the adventure that were our first years married when we could go anywhere and do anything because we were young and carefree.
There is the one for The Parents-to-Be that Matt’s parents gave us months before we knew Isabel was a reality. I remember how this one brought tears to my eyes for it spoke of hope and promise. I look at my children today and this ornament now speaks to me about a family built on initial disappointment, lots of prayer, lots of waiting, and a God who keeps his promises.
I see the many Baby’s First Christmas ornaments that were given to us. Most of them pink, because Noah’s first Christmas was a whirlwind of moving, new church, and new life. They take me back to another baby’s first Christmas more than two thousand years ago and my mother’s heart understands how Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
There is the one Isabel’s foster mom made for her when she heard Isabel had found her forever family. It is hand stitched with her name, and the year. It reminds me of how she spent two months of her life waiting for her mom and dad to find her, but how she was loved and cared for by many people even before we met her.
I spot a globe in the shape of a baseball that was given to Matt by his beloved granddaddy, his name-sake and his hero, who is no longer with us. It speaks of three generations of men who loved Jesus and chose to make their life’s work and vocation to make His name known.
There are some that mark a time when we were just two. Then there are the ones that belong to this new era of our lives like the Noah’s Ark with all the animals and Mickey Mouse ears from last year’s trip to Disney. They talk to me about the passage of time, how it flies, and how we move from one stage of our lives into another almost without notice.
And there we have the ones that speak of what Christmas truly is for us. The ones that portray the Holy Family. We have several of those for those are the ones that speak the loudest to our hearts. We have one that shows Santa Clause bowing to the Child Christ and one that shows a Christmas tree on one side and a cross on the other. We have Nativities all around the house as well. We have wooden ones, metal ones, ceramic, and plastic. We have toy ones for the kids to enjoy, fancy ones that should not be touched, gorgeous ones that stay out all year, and the one we collect a piece at the time year after year. These are the most valued decorations in our house as we try to teach our children in no uncertain terms what Christmas is all about.
Ten years of Christmas represented on one tree. It is not the same scrawny one we had when we first started. As has our family, the tree has changed and grown and last year we had to buy a new one, a fatter one to fit our larger living room, our many decorations, and our extra helpers.
Dear Pier One, if I were to change my hodge-podge of decorations for your beautiful, expensive ones, my tree will no longer speak to me. It would be a silent, large, green, glittering blob in my living room with no history, no meaning, and no purpose. I am sure it would be beautifully chic, but I think I will keep my tree as it is, and continue to let it serve its purpose as our family’s historian, reminding us year after year about the wonder that has been our family’s journey.

**As a side note, I have nothing against Pier One. Their new slogan just compelled me to defend my poor tree!**

December 3, 2010

Not just any ordinary moment...

Mama Kat had this prompt in this week’s writing workshop: If you could re-live any moment in your life, what moment would you choose? For me it would be a moment in two parts, each several months apart.
March 10th, 2006 was a Friday. The weather was mild and the sun was shining. I was a month short of 28 and a few hours short of changing my life forever. We get up early that morning, didn’t really wake up for we had not slept; double-check the bag, the car, the route, and set out down a familiar road, yet down a path we had never traveled before.
Three hours later we are there. We take some pictures for posterity. This is us minutes before our world was turned upside down. Can you tell from the pictures how clueless we were? We thought we knew what it would be like; we had the bag packed to prove it, but nothing prepares you for when the moment comes.

The social worker carries a wrapped bundle  in her arms. Out of the bundle a little hand comes out to move the blanket so two huge, brown eyes can peer at us. Curious from day one. Then she is placed in our arms. “Here is your daughter.” I always imagined I would cry. But I can’t. I can only stare. And she can only stare back. We lock eyes. I never knew I believed in love at first sight. People are moving around me, talking, asking questions. I hear nothing. Time stops. I can only stare. And fall in love some more. She is beautiful. And so small. I count toes and fingers. I breathe in her scent. Something awakes inside me. Something instinctual and as old as creation. I feel it and I can’t name it. Not yet.
“Gaby, repeat after me: I promise to be your mom forever….” I can’t repeat that. I want to but nothing would come out of my throat. I am crying now. I want to repeat it, but all that comes out are tears. Of joy. Of gratitude. Of I-cannot-believe-this-amazing-baby-is-mine. We take pictures for posterity. This is us minutes after our world was turned upside down. This is us when us became bigger than two.

This is us, parents at last.
She is strapped in her car-seat. Our hands are shaken and the door is shut behind us. Go, be blessed, be a family. We stop to eat at a restaurant. I don’t know how to hold her. I feel awkward and inexperienced. A woman approaches us: “Your daughter is beautiful.” Thank you, I whisper. My daughter. How did she know? It must show. We must look it. The happiness must glow. This is the moment, part I.

Isabel is a year and a half old when the phone rings. “There is a boy,” they say. They share blood. Do you want him? What a question! “You can get him when your paperwork is complete,” they say. We are not prepared; we have no paperwork. Three weeks of running around and rushing. Three weeks of torture without him. Finally, September 6th comes. It is a hot Saturday. We load the car, we pack the bag, we find the route, and set out down a familiar road, and down path we have traveled before but are no less nervous to take.
Two hours later we are there. We walk in. They bring him in. He is so small. And so beautiful. The siblings meet for the first time and it is a joyful meeting. 

I knew this time I would be able to repeat the vows: I promise to be your mom forever... But when I open my mouth, only tears come. Tears of joy. Tears of gratitude. I am overwhelmed with love as I was the first time. I can only stare, again. And fall in love, again. And count fingers and toes, again. And breathe his scent, again. We take pictures for posterity. This is us when us became four. Double will be the diapers, the laundry, the mess, the happiness.


How similar and yet how different from that moment months ago! I no longer feel awkward and inexperienced. I am no longer terrified. This time I am prepared when deep inside me the rumbling that is as old as creation stirs again. This time I know what it is: love so fierce and overwhelming it uproots me and my heart is forever wrapped around his. My son. This is the moment, part II. 


Mama's Losin' It


 

December 2, 2010

A Cherry On Top!

I started blogging a few months ago because I like to write, because I thought it would be an interesting experience, and because I could. Why not, right? Let’s try this and see what happens.
I had no idea it would be such an enriching experience. I also had no idea of the incredibly large and supportive online community a blog would reveal to me. I didn’t know that so many people blog, that there is a blog for just about any topic you can think of, and that there is a whole sub-culture of the blog world. It was a fascinating discovery for this anthropologist-wanna-be.
But that’s on the research side. On the human side I didn’t know blogging would make my life fuller. Seriously, who knew? I bet you did, if you have been blogging longer, but I? I was clueless. As an example, blogging has given me an excuse to spend extra time with my face-to-face friend Heather, who is my webmaster extraordinaire and has taught me the ins-and-outs of creating headers, posting pictures, and links, etc. She was my first follower, my first commenter, and my first encourager. She is my blog-mentor!
But I expected my family and friends to read, wouldn’t you? The coolest thing was to see people I didn’t know become followers and leave comments. I thought: Whoa! Other people are reading this mess? That. Is. Awesome. And then to get comments from strangers that said such and such post had touched them? I was hooked. (By the way, your comments make my day, so please don’t be shy. I love, love, love to hear from you. Then I get to go to your blog and read your stories. That I love even more.)
Heather, my aforementioned mentor, introduced me to ICWL. I joined. I commented. I received comments. I had a blast. I made new friends. Online friends who share their lives with me. How cool is that? Maybe all of this is old news to you because you are a veteran of the blog world. But do you remember what it felt like when you were new at this and it was all fresh? I may be a few years behind (as I usually am in all things technology) but I am just now being wowed by the awesomeness of it all.
So now I have a blog that gives me a chance to write some stories about the people I love most and who fill me with inspiration, a bunch of other places to go to when I want to read stories that will fill me with inspiration, and several new friends whose lives fill me with inspiration. Do you see a theme developing? You. Inspire. Me.
All of these ramblings to say this:
One of my new friends, Katherine, humbled me by giving me this award:


So now I get to pay it forward by choosing five blogs from among those amazing ones I have found and send them some love and encouragement in the shape of a little cupcake. It has been difficult to pick just five, but here they are (fanfare and drum roll…):
Superfluous Pulchritude

(Here are the rules: Link back to the person who awarded you, and then pick five blogs to pass on the award too. Make sure to comment on the awarded blogs so they know they've been picked.)
Some of these people I know personally, some I have met through this journey, some have no idea who I am, but I assure you their posts are worth reading.
There are so many others wonderful blogs and the people behind them. If you are curious, just click on any name in any of the posts’ comments sections and explore. Be warned: you may end up, like me, with a big ol’ long list of blogs to read each morning!