A Mother’s Warmth

When I was a little girl, I believed in magic.  I don’t mean a magician’s magic ((although that is awesome)).  I’m talking the mystical magic where things happen for unexplained reasons.  My mommy had this beautiful fur coat and to me that coat was magic.  She would wear it on those bitterly cold days to the bus stop then snuggle up me and Alex underneath close to her so all you saw was a woman with three pairs of legs…what a sight we must have made!  I can remember trying to sneak into her room and snuggle with it whenever I felt cold at home…and I get cold a LOT.  As time went on the coat seemed to drift further away but always lingered in my memory.  Then it was completely forgotten.  Was it really the coat that made Mommy’s hugs so full of love and warmth?

Then I was removed from my home for about a month ((thank you government)).  Upon seeing my mother’s face, I flew down the halls of the courthouse and into her waiting arms and together we cried and clung to each other, like someone tossed overboard clings to a life preserver, and it dawned on me that it was not the coat at all…it was the love and warmth of her and her alone.  My second favorite place in the world ((sorry Mom)) is in her arms ((Will’s come first now)).

I have not thought about that coat in years.  I have no idea what ever happened to that coat.  I like to think that I outgrew the “magic” of that coat and it passed itself along to another little girl who needed to believe in magic until she herself could understand that the greatest magic of all, is love.

Christmas Day

Tonight, is Christmas Eve and I am snuggled up in my favorite pajamas, watching the Nativity Story, peeking, at the clock, and waiting for bedtime, so I can send at least the youngest off to dreamland before I begin wrapping the gifts and stuffing the stockings.  Although there is not much this year, we have love, peace, and hope for tomorrow.  There is an ache in my heart as always because Alex is celebrating in heaven but this year the ache runs deeper as it is the first Christmas in 37 years without my Father.  I know we will be visiting family over the course of the next couple of days as it is also my brother Steve’s birthday ((2 days after Christmas)).  A lot of us are missing friends and loved ones this year and from years past that have gone on home.  My Godmother, bless her, made the best apple pie and I surely miss them this time of year.  Alex always had a trick or prank up his sleeve and Dad would have a camera plastered to his face pretty much the second we walked in the door.  This Christmas, as you celebrate with loved ones, please, remember the ones that have crossed through the pearly gates.  Speak their name, share the memories you have, feel the love they left behind and share that love with us, those left behind and grieving.  That is truly the best gift I could ask of anyone.

A Letter of Hope

Dearest Ma,
As I sit here the night before Christmas Eve, your girls, my sisters by heart, tell me that you are sick and not doing well. I send these words of love and peace and warmth to you on this December night. The memories of our lives together and what you have done for me have been flooding my soul since I heard the news. I am so deeply sorry we lost touch over the years, but knowing you, you are always nearby watching even when I don’t know it. I can remember as a small girl, you always dug out the truth, no matter the pain it caused because a little pain was better than a lifetime of regret. You have a heart of gold like no other and stood beside me and Mommy during some of our darkest days. You were our guiding light, especially in my teenage years. You have always been a firm hand, a safe place, and for that I am truly grateful. I really believe that had you and your girls not been a part of my life, I would not be the woman I am today. Thank you for standing beside me on my wedding day and helping my parents give me away. As their baby, I’m sure my Mommy was wreck ((even though she tried to hide it)). And oh, the funny times we had too. You were sitting on my couch snuggling sweet Toby in your arms ((he’s 14 and about 6 foot tall now)) and threatening to smuggle him home with you ((good luck trying it now)). Giving us money for the candy store then getting mad because we bought you two candy as well as us. Knowing exactly how much to tickle and when we needed a good belly laugh. Liam is 18 now and all grown-up. He’s a fine, young man who I am sure will do great things with his life soon. Then there is Eli. He is 9 and sassy and funny and silly and very stubborn and opinionated. He’s like me and Alex wrapped up in one amazing boy ((who drives me bonkers)). I used to think you and Mommy were so mean and so tough and you were just nutty with your rules of do’s and don’ts.
Then I had the boys and Lord help me if I didn’t hear you or my mother ((and sometimes both of you)) come out my mouth and I had to stop myself and think “dang it…they were right…again…” and I chuckle and shake my head at how foolish we were and yet you both still loved us unconditionally. I am so very blessed to have you in my life and I thank you for it, even when I don’t show it. Please, please keep fighting.
143 ♥

Dad

He was my whole world when I was small,
I became his whole world as I grew tall.
He held my hand for as long as he could have.
I let go long before I should have.
He was my knight and I, his princess.
He stood firm and strong,
To him, I could do no wrong.
He was my safe space,
And my warm embrace.
He held my heart until it was time,
For a man to say, “she is now mine”.
Now, he flies with the angels,
While I try to dangle.
My world seems colder
And I feel a bit older.
He is my north star
He is forever in my heart ♥

Dare to be Different

These past few weeks I have been locked away in my own world and just trying to figure out this Christmas.  I focused on my training for my new job, remote-schooled the boys for the 1001 day.  Begrudgingly cleaned and decorated for Christmas.  All the while storming about and dreading my first Christmas without my beloved Dad.

Last night, I shut away the world after a long day of shopping with Mommy and the tree and the mantle and the house is finally all ready for Christmas Day.  Then I snuggled down with Eli ((our 9-year-old)) and he and I watched some Christmas movies together.  We started with Jim Carrey’s, The Grinch, then segued into Rudolph.  After Rudolph I sent Eli off to dreamland and snuggled down with Will and we watched his favorite Christmas musical, Albert Finney’s, Scrooge then I drifted off watching Tim Allen’s, Santa Clause.  What a busy, blessed, Christmassy Saturday.

While watching Rudolph, as I have been doing for as long as I can remember, I started to remember a lot of Christmas’ past and it was beautiful and wonderful.  I do not remember the gifts; I remember the love and the peace and the magic of playing in the snow in the moon light.

I got to thinking about how much the world has changed since then and how just about everything is deemed offensive today and I remembered seeing articles about pulling Rudolph from the air since it “promotes bullying”.  But there is so much more to Rudolph than bullying.  There is Clarice, Rudolph’s doe.  When she first met him, she saw past what others considered a “deformity” and saw his spirit.  She saw his love, bravery, and strength.  She saw his compassion and his grace. 

Rudolph did not like being labeled a misfit and ran away from home.  Along his travels he met Yukon Cornelius and Herbie the Dentist Elf.  These three bonded and became friends.  Rudolph, with his red nose, Yukon with his obsession of finding silver and gold, and Herbie the Elf who wanted to be a dentist.  Three who had nothing in common except standing out from the crowd.  Together they wound up at the Island of Misfit Toys.  After that they eventually made their way back and saved the day then Santa flew off and stopped at the Island of Misfit Toys.  My favorite line during that scene is from Charlie in the Box who says that a toy is not properly loved until it is loved by a child.

This resonated deep in my soul and I got to thinking about The Island of Misfits we have in our own backyards.  Those would be the foster kids, of whom I was one for a brief period.  While I was provided for, I was not loved.  I was only there for about a month.  During my stay, I was not allowed to see my mother, but I could visit Dad and he dutifully picked me up and made sure I was in youth group every Wednesday night and Mom had the Holland’s in her corner fighting together to bring me home.  At the foster home, I was repeatedly dropped off at the local pool ((this happened mid-July to about mid-August the summer I was fourteen)).  I was left there with a foster sister from about 9 A.M. to about 6 P.M.  I was a very fair-skinned teen and wound up with first and second degree burns all over my body and fever blisters above my upper lip.  Dad said I was a brighter red than Santa’s suit and instead of youth group, he took me to the hospital and sat by my side anxiously awaiting what the doctors would say and the days that would follow.  Because I was in the foster home, there were set rules and because Dad took me to the hospital instead of church, our visits were now prohibited, and I was cut off from everyone except one social worker.  Finally, Mommy and I were reunited, and life began to right itself again.  Today, I have dry, flaky skin on my forehead that never goes away and is a constant reminder of my time on the Island of Misfits. 

I say that foster kids are an island of misfits not to be racist, but to shed light on the unwanted and unloved of the world.  I realize they are children and not toys, but I would like to paraphrase my buddy Charlie, “no little girl or boy is properly loved until he or she is loved by a Parent”.

Then, we get to Rudolph himself.  He eventually realized his “deformity” was, in fact, a blessing to others because he led Santa’s sleigh that night and rescued the toys and saved Christmas.  He took what he was given and used it to change the life of one little girl forever ((as I am sure he has done for millions of other children across the globe)).  He showed me that standing apart from the crowd is way cooler than being a part of the “in-crowd”.  I have a lifetime of precious memories because of Rudolph and now I get to make new memories with my boys from an old movie full of love, courage, strength, and uniqueness ♥

Finding My Peace in the Storm

Today started out exceptionally well.  And boy was I light-hearted.  I woke feeling totally refreshed.  Got the boys up without too much of a struggle for remote school ((again)).  Dad and I ran some errands then I had a work meeting ((virtually)) while he scooted out the door to work.  After my meeting was done, I dug out my flute.  And it dawned on me that today is the very first day I had picked up my flute since my father’s funeral five months ago.  Obviously, I started with the Christmas carols.  I started feeling the nudges I get when I am feeling the call to write.  But nothing came to mind.  Flute practice now done, I dutifully threw on Christmas carols and did a bit of housework and a teensy bit of decorating ((finally)).  While doing all that I was also doing laundry ((Momming for the win today)).  Once I decided to rest my bones I figured “okay, now the words will flow” and nope, once again, crickets.  So, I dug into my music because usually that helps.  Instead, it brought me to fat, ugly, cannot breathe, feeling like I am going to be sick, tears. After about an hour I signed onto a chit site that I used and connected with my “online tribe” of warriors and they rallied around me and finally the words started flowing like magic once more.

Today, it is more important than ever to have a support system ((even virtually)).  This small group has been with me since Dad got sick at the end of June.  And I love them dearly and we have never even met.  The Bible says wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there I am also.  I have one friend who I know shares my faith, April.  And when I get in “my ways” and I cannot get out, I know I can turn to her and together she pulls me out and up.  I am so beyond blessed to have her as a sister in the Lord.

Soon, it will be bedtime for this tired Mommy and I for one, am looking forward to my pillow and to not having to set an alarm for the morning ((hallelujah Saturdays)).  Draw close to believers, they will draw you closer to God.

Christmas Memories

All around me I see the world getting ready for Christmas.  Light are twinkling and trees and bought.  Ornaments are being hung and Mom is hunting for the perfect tablecloth for Christmas dinner.  The memories are being shared of Christmas’ past.  I remember the time I spent with my family.  I remember the Kuchos we used to do every year when I was small.  Kuchos is a traditional Lithuanian Christmas, done on Christmas Eve to celebrate the One Who Is To Come ((pretty cool right?))  The biggest memory I have ((next to Kuchos)) is Christmas 1991.  It was the first Christmas since Alex had gone home and we did not want to celebrate at all.  Literally, we stood the tree up and then proceeded to throw ornaments at the tree and where they landed is where they stayed.  This year, we now have two empty seats at our table and around our tree and once again Mommy and I would much rather tuck ourselves away and throw ornaments once more.  But dutifully, we will smile and try to spread cheer and the tree will go and the memories will be made for my boys and that is the most precious gift I could ever ask for…is that my boys are happy and are making memories ♥

Being in God’s Presence

For I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
                        ♥Isaiah 41:10♥

I downloaded this Bible coloring app to my phone and I absolutely love it! Today’s picture was of Christ coming through stormy seas holding out his hand to me ((or whoever happens to be coloring the picture)).  And as I was coloring this picture, my heart grew heavier and I knew that the Holy Spirit was grabbing my attention so I became solely focused on this picture and everything else faded from me, I was tunneled into Christ and so I have decided to try to describe what being in God’s presence is like for me. Firstly, He sneaks up on me when I am not even looking because truth be told, I was only coloring to pass the time.  The more I colored, the more my heart ached with a heaviness that did not hurt.  As I have felt that feeling before, I knew where I was headed and usually, I get so emotional I cannot think because I start weeping with joy.  This time though, being there in His presence, was so calming and peaceful.  It was as if only Jesus and I were sitting on my bed just hanging out and chatting like old friends.  Even as I type this, I feel a heavy yet calm presence across my shoulders.  But I am not weeping ((hallelujah…it’s hard to type through tears)).  There is a sense of peace deep within me even as the world is “coming back to life” for me and I can hear my husband playing his video game and my television in the background and far off noises from the boys room’s.  What is it like for you? Feel free to share

Unashamed and Unapologetic

I usually write the “this is how life was, God found me, all better” posts ((which are true and real…at least to me)).  Today, I am bringing you to the “other” side.  The side of faith that Christians do not like to talk about.  I am talking about the things that scar your very soul.  I have faced quite a few of those myself and some days, it is a battle to keep those “inner demons” under wraps.  Many times, I call my Mommy and I just cry out to her “why?”  She always makes me feel better, no matter the situation.  Even deeper than that, is the tears I fight to hide from my boys because even though I know I am an alright Mom ((although Eli called me his favorite, best Mommy today so…brownie points))! I still feel like such a failure most days and nights I go to bed wondering if I paid enough attention, did I shoo away when I should have said stay?  I battle the “other me” in my head that says I am not good enough and that I need to just hide away from the world.  I suffer from chronic knee pain and it just seems to be getting worse by the month.  My PTSD likes to rear her ugly head at the worst moments, and I can scarcely catch my breath. Some days, I lay in bed because I am too “tired” to get up.  Yes, I have depression ((yippee skippee)).  When dealing with trauma, I do not handle it well at all.  I punch walls, windows, car roofs, whatever is handy, when I get angry enough.  It goes deeper my friends.  Just when I am at my breaking point, is when I yell…at God. You do what? Yes, I yell at God and I scream “now what? What do we do? How do we fix this? What are YOU going to do?!” Then I kind of slip into this little “funk” where I just do not care.  Eventually God finds me, and hauls me up into His arms and cradles me and shows me ((like a proud Papa showing His daughter something amazingly wonderful)) just how and when and who He is using to keep me encouraged and strong and faithful.  After I finish my “tantrum” God sets me on my feet and like an unsteady toddler, I am off once again trying to keep the faith and keep my eyes on Jesus and my Heavenly home, then I stumble over that rock, or fall into this hole, and the cycle starts again.

I share this with you because yes I am woman of faith, a daughter of the King, and I struggle, I have questions, I doubt…and that is definitely okay because as Thomas said “I believe…help my unbelief”. ♥

I am in the Valley, but God is Here

We had decided to pack up and leave behind the city I have called home for thirty-five years.  Even Mommy decided it was time for her to leave and agreed to come along.  We found a charming little house that was perfect for us with a beautiful yard and the best part of all ((besides being pet-friendly)) it was ten minutes from Will’s work.  So, we dutifully filled out the questionnaire and scrounged around and managed to scrape up the money.  We figured this was from God because why else would it go smoothly and happen quickly?  After everything was done on our end, we waited impatiently and frequently checked for the “your keys are coming” email.  Instead we got “I need help with this, I need that, you should do this”. After much deliberation and investigation, we found out we were scammed ((yay)).  Now we have the daunting and tedious task of filing fraud claims with both the local police and the bank and possibly missing work for court in the future.  Because of this scam, we are behind on rent and are fighting to catch up and our current landlord informed us today that “I don’t care about your situation, I only care about the rent for my apartment”.  Things indeed look bleak true but…I have a job, I was blessed to spend Thanksgiving with family, my eldest son is visiting for the night, Will has been working ((and continues to do so)) through this never-ending pandemic.  We still have a roof over our heads and food on our table despite the hard times.  Our boys are provided for by family and friends. 

While I may be in the valley right now and I have no idea what our future holds, God is here with me and I know I can trust Him fully to guide me and my family out of this valley as He has done many times before ♥