Shells

I shed a couple of tears as I laid there, using the sometimes starved right half of my brain. Imagining. Remembering. I saw my feet slipping on sandals, and down the stairs, over grass and pavement to the sandy path. All my leg muscles working to make my way up and over the dunes; soft, dry sand kicking up over my toes and reaching the back of my calves. I make it past the shore line brush and hear a joyful shriek of “WA-WA!” The little curly-haired red-head and I pick up shells, and feel the breaking water over our feet. She runs away from the small waves crashing, but I go in deeper. A tow-headed boy with a blue boogie board, seemingly too big for his five-year old body, calls to me, “Mommy! Do you want to ride the waves with me!? Swim with me!” We spot dolphins just 20 yards away. The air is salty and thick with humidity, but we don’t mind. This quiet sound off the Atlantic Ocean is filling our heart tanks and breathing rest into our lungs. I wade towards the shore and step out onto the shell-filled sand once more finding shiny, yet broken treasures. I keep them in a bucket and I feel like a little girl again. I feel close to God’s heart, finding and admiring sea treasures that might not catch anyone else’s eye, but I see their value. I see how the wind and rain and sea has tossed them and weathered them- some unrecognizable. Like human hearts.

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“Are you doing alright?” she asked, with her doctor’s mask and goggles with special lights on it.

“Uh huh.” I had come back from my mind’s beach sanctuary to the reality that there was drilling and scraping and pressure going on in my mouth to help alleviate a small crack in my molar that wasn’t healing itself since March. How dare it. I felt hot and weak and nauseous from the anesthesia needles and nervous at the pain that might come anyway. I felt guilty about how much aversion to physical pain I have. I feel unnecessarily guilty about a lot of things, but I thought about ebola and the children victim to ISIS and paralyzing depression that leads to suicide and hated how low my pain tolerance was to getting a flippin root canal that I even have medical insurance helping to cover. Shut up, Allison!

But wait.

Jesus cares about those fears, too.

Was that thought mere self-enabling? Or the truth? Jesus cares about my tears over being nervous in the dental chair and he cares about my heart-filling experience with my family to the beach. It will be fuel for another cold winter that lies ahead.

My shape and the degree of weathering is going to look different from the other shells. We are all accounted for though. Not one hurt or wound or death is in vain. He sees each tear. None are frivolous to Him. No one gets through this life without deep hurt of some sort. Those of us fortunate to live a life with family, friends, food, a home, a car (or more), medical care in a free country are fortunate indeed. Even with all that, subtle evils attack and lives fall apart. No one is out of an enemy’s reach, physical or spiritual.

So we can share tears. Pain, joy, whichever- it’s something that if we let others in enough, we can start to see their weathered hearts but love them anyway. Admire them, hear the stories. Learn. Mourn. Laugh. Encourage.I’m so guilty of taking this life for granted. For judging others before I know the whole story. Are you? I hope I’m not alone. There is beauty in the shells, rocks and glass that are in the middle of their journey of being smoothed and refined, though some just look beaten and rough. There is beauty in tiny grains of sand, former shells that shattered and broken or worn down next to nothing. I’m okay with feeling vulnerable and small, when I remember the One who holds the grains of sand and the stars in the sky.
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Now Where Did I Put That Crystal Ball?

Sometimes I wish I had a crystal ball- or at least just a Magic 8 ball that told me the truth. “That’s part of the adventure of life, the not knowing…” Bla, bla, bla. Actually, I believe that too. But now that we are in the thick of June we await God’s last minute plans to swoop in and save us. I don’t doubt that he will but I’ve resigned to the fact that it’s not going to be how I envision it. It hasn’t been so far, so why start now? I like to pretend like it’s ten years from now and we are looking back on this time laughing and sighing on how far we’ve come and how silly we were to ever doubt for a second that every step, every situation was put in place for a very specific reason. Like I said in the last post, the only thing we’re sure about is this call in our lives for Jason to persue his PhD. We don’t know the ripple effects of that action, but we don’t want to look back someday and regret that we didn’t obey God’s call and be haunted by the “what ifs”. If you’re passionate about something, and feel God saying, “What’s holding you back from doing that?” then do it! That’s what we think, anyway.

Miles has a 3rd birthday coming up. My little boy is energetic (and that’s an understatement), sweet, creative, smart and sometimes a real space-cadet. He can be loud and squealy and talk your ear off with good vocabulary or poopy butt talk. He can also be quiet and cautious and observant. He loves all things cowboy, trains, anything that flys or is in the sky, throwing rocks in water, anything the color blue and numero siete on the Fiesta Charra kids menu. He’s a wheeler and dealer. “Eat 3 more bites of broccoli and you can have a cookie.” “How about 2 bites? Okay I will eat 2 bites and get a cookie? Okay.” or “If you go pee on the potty you can have a jelly bean. If you poop on the big boy potty you can have a popsicle!”  ” If I pee I have a popsicle! Okay!” He knows exactly what he’s doing. Earlier we were coloring with markers and he was making me a picture. After he was done with mine, he said, “I sell it?” “I’m not buying your artwork, kid! I’m your mother! You should just give it to me!” He’s humble. “That’s very nice of me!” “Yes, I is a nice boy.” “Jesus is proud of me going on the big boy potty!” Yes He is, Miles. And for many more things. He loves his sister and tells her so all the time. He puts her pacifier back in her mouth, fetches her blanket and bear all on his own will. He always wants to cuddle with her. He is a great big brother. Jesus is proud of him. My heart is full.

Miles at 2 months

My almost 3 year old on a choo-choo train

I love my life right now, but I’m tired. I need a vacation, but no time or money to take the one I really long for (hint: it would probably exclude children). Waiting for something to happen for us- so we can move forward- has taken a toll. I feel pressure to make money freelancing, pressure to spend time with my kids; loving, encouraging, teaching, playing with them. Pressure to find time and resources to cook healthy food. All things I want to do, but along with finding time to rest myself it seems daunting each day. I find myself holding a nursing baby in one arm while I use my other arm to help my toddler use the “big boy potty”. I would like to use the “big boy potty” without hearing thuds and screams and wailing coming from the other room, sounds that won’t stop until I give my full attention to them once more. I don’t know how you super-moms  and dads do it all. My guess is you don’t do it all- but you make it look like you do and on top of that you make it look so dog-gone easy.  Jason and I joked yesterday that kids really do ruin your life. In a good, but challenging way. It really is about sacrificing your time, wants, needs to them for the better part of 18 years, and then I’m told it really never ends. We knew that going into baby having, but it still isn’t a reality until you’re in the thick of it.

I’m thankful for a husband who (for example) as soon as we got back from our 5 day trip to Virginia started a load of laundry, did dishes and got the laundry out and folded it AND put it away while I fed Clementine her last meal of the day and got her to bed. As we weaved our way north through the southern part of Ohio, we admired the beauty of Tappan Lake like we had on the way down. This time I was making a list of years and looking forward to three years from now when (God willing) Jason is done with course work and exams at Catholic University. That is the Fall I would love to take the kids to Disney World. 2015. Sigh. The follow year will be our 10th anniversary and I would love to go on a 2nd (yet cheaper and closer) honeymoon. That’s also the year Jason would be able to work as a professor and we could possibly buy a house again wherever he gets the job. Miles will being in 1st grade. Clementine will start pre-school. 2016. Sigh. I can’t imagine that time yet and I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to a rest. Even a little one.

I’m glad I can’t find my crystal ball, I don’t think I’d want to know where we’ll be until we get there. I’m enjoying the ages they are right now.  Even though I’m exhausted mentally, physically, emotionally- I’m enjoying relying on the Lord for- well, most everything. I’m enjoying becoming closer to my husband. I’m enjoying our friendships and our families and watching both grow. In three years, in four, in ten- I can look back and see the fruit of what God is presently doing. I’m excited for the future, but for now I will choose to wait and keep trusting and breathing hope into my little family, maybe helping others that can relate to continue to hope in what the Lord has promised them in their lives. Sometimes the best encouragement one can hear is “It will all be okay.” And I know it will.