Thursday, April 17, 2014

Meeting Your Child Again

With my second pregnancy, I gave in to my husband and we found out the gender of our baby early.  So for 7 months, I walked around knowing that Allie Elizabeth McKinney was forming inside me.  I could talk to her saying things like, "Okay, Allie, please stop pushing on Mommy's ribs."  With this knowledge, the anticipation was a bit different than the first time.  One, I knew more, I was more confident, but I felt an anticipation of meeting Allie.  Not just meeting my new baby.  It felt like a very specific anticipation.

In 62 hours, I will be meeting Allie Elizabeth McKinney again.  For the past 8 months she has gone to Senegal, Africa, to live with another family.  While we have gotten to facebook chat, and skype, none of those are the same as sitting face to face with someone.  They have however given me glimpses of the changes in my daughter, much like the sonograms gave me glimpses of the baby growing in my belly.

My daughter left as an eighteen year old.  She left speaking English and Spanish.  She left having never experienced being away from home for major holidays or events.  She left having an intimate knowledge of our family unit only.  She left with a knowledge of developing world problems, but only book knowledge.  As mature and independent as she was, she left a girl.

Now she is coming home a nineteen year old.  She is coming home speaking English, Spanish, some French, and Wolof.  She is coming home after spending Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthdays away from her American family.  She is coming home with a Senegalese family who also love her.  She is coming home having experienced intimately how another family lives and lives in Africa.   She is coming home having experienced a developing country.  Having seen good and bad that have changed her.  She is coming home a young woman.

Just like the actual pregnancy, these past months have been hard.  They have had their ups and downs, and their scares.  But, just like the birth, I know when she is in my arms, it will have all been worth it.  And just as she changed my life then, she will change my life again. 

I am anxiously anticipating that moment, just as I did 19 years ago when she is in my arms once more.  Because no matter how tall, how mature, how old, Allie, you will always and forever be my baby girl.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Unexpected Advent

My morning started, as usual, with a cup of coffee.  As I reached into the dishwasher to get a mug, I noticed that my Grandmother Allie's mug was clean.  So instead of grabbing the closest one, I rearranged and got her mug.  As I was readying my coffee, much the same way she taught me when I was 3 without quite as much milk and sugar, I began a letter in my head to my grandmother.  I wanted to share with her what my children are doing.  I wanted to tell her about Stephen and the joy I feel at seeing him in love and with new purpose in his life.  I wanted to share with her what Allie is doing in Africa.  In my head I wrote about how the tradition of strong women has continued down the line and that the granddaughter named after her is maybe one of the strongest yet. I told her how right she was back in 1985, Jack McKinney was/is the one for me.  I share with her how much he loves me and cares for me.  I told her how he makes me laugh. How he makes me feel so safe.   I described my knitting group to her and told her the stories of each woman there.  I told her about the joy I receive from being part of that group.  I express my regret that she didn't live long enough to see her craft become so popular or the new glorious yarns that are available.  I thank her for her early lessons in crochet and for sparking the interest in me long, long ago.  I tell her that I think of her almost daily.  That I love her.  That she lives on in all of our hearts.

In other words, I experienced advent this morning.  Peace, love, joy, and hope.  They flooded my heart as I wrote that letter to my Grandmother.  In the midst of the busiest week in a long time for me, advent found me.  And luckily enough for me, I listened.  How about you?  Have you stopped long enough to hear the bells ringing?  Have you listened for the soft whispers of your heart and soul?  Have you felt the warmth of love flood your heart?

Stop.  Listen.  Feel.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Extremes of Emotions

The sun is out
I am full of joy.
News of death
I am full of sadness.

My children are handling their problems
I am full of pride
My children are hurting
I am full of pain.

My life now includes new friends
I am full of happiness
My life now includes lots of change
I am full of uneasiness.

I am loving my independence
I am full of playfullness
I am longing for my role of motherhood
I am full of loneliness.

Duality, extremes, opposites,
My life seems overflowing with these
Sometimes I can't keep track
Of where I am.

Am I sad?  Am I happy?
Am I lonely?  Am I satisfied?
I cannot answer one question alone
For I can answer yes to each one at the same time.

This is not new, I know,
But when the house is quiet
these are the thoughts
on which I brood.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Let My Light Shine

The shadows grow longer as the sun starts its descent
The temperature begins to dip until there is a chill
Lights begin flickering on all around the neighborhood
People begin to settle into the evening.

It is a time for reflection on the day
Was it a day well spent or not?
What determines a good day from a bad day?
How much work was done or who was touched by our lives?

The shadows lengthen in my soul
The darkness threatens to block all light
What will push away the anxiety or depression?
What will make my heart still?

I remember the friend I spoke with on the phone,
The joy of decorating my home for fall,
The fellowship of my knitting group,
The thrill of creating a gift which will touch a friend.

No money was made
No glories bestowed
No to-do list crossed off
No lives saved.

Yet, a difference was made today,
My friend needed a laugh,
I received support for tomorrow
And my soul is full from creating.

Yes, it is dark outside,
but inside my soul
a light is burning
so shoo shadows
let my light shine.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

My Soul Breathes

Cool breezes and the crashing of waves
Pelicans soaring and diving
Blue sky peeking from behind the clouds
A hot mug of coffee

This is a place and time of healing
The balm my soul needed
The silence different from the silence of my home
The birds sing a different tune here

It is a place to think, to ponder
It is a time to reconnect with my love
It is a place to consider my future
It is a time to remember who I am

Delight as my eyes soak in the sites
Joy as my ears fill with the sounds of the waves
Relief as my nose fills with the saltiness of the air
Peace as my soul breathes freely

Thursday, October 10, 2013


The the chasm inside me tears open
the burning in the center of my chest sears my flesh
the longing...the yearning...the neediness
my soul quakes with the urgency.

Her head is clasped to my chest,
her arms encircle me and hold on tight,
the perfume of her shampoo fills my nostrils
the bubbling laughter fills my ears.

The excitement of youth expressed by one I love so
it reverberates off her being and enters mine
I soak in the sunlight of her smile
and bask in the glow of her youthful aura.

I drive away and the yearning starts small
with each minute I drive away,
the burning gets hotter,
tears rush unbidden to try to wash the wound.

For though this is a child I love,
it is not the child I crave.
But the sweet aroma of her shampoo and her warm embrace
will tide me over till the child I crave is in my arms.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Beauty can grow from pain

I learned a very important lesson yesterday: As painful as confrontation can be, when misunderstandings and truths are revealed, something beautiful can grow in its place.

We all have people in our lives who we butt heads with, find annoying, or who hurt us.  Some of these people are in our lives not by choice, but by marriage, neighborhood, co-workers, family, parents of children's friends, etc.  We are forced into situations with these people and have to find a way to co-exist.  I have always thought I was a pretty honest person.  What you see is what you get.  But in reality, that is not true.  When I encounter these people in my life, I hide from them, I put up walls, I even become something I hate....passive aggressive.  I am not even aware of it most of the time.  I do another thing I hate...I talk about them to people I know love me and care for me.  Instead of having the guts to make the first move and try to work out the problems, I let fear of conflict rule my decisions.

Yesterday, one of these relationships in my life was forced to the open.  Years of fear and mistrust were revealed to the public.  At first I was humiliated.  But, fortunately the other person reached out to me.  That reaching out, gave me the courage to take it one step farther and meet with them one on one.  What ensued, was one of the most honest discussions I have had with someone other than my husband.  I owned my own part in the relationship.  I confessed my own misdeeds.  I apologized.  I listened and really heard what she had to say.  We cried together.  She forgave me.  I forgave her.  I left that house feeling euphoric.  A feeling I haven't had in a long time.  I am grateful for her honesty and her grace. 

Looking back on my life, I see several of these relationships.  Some, I have tried to reach out and have an honest discussion, only to be slapped away.  Some, I didn't take the time to sit down and be open.  I regret those relationships, now.  I wonder what good could have come from an honest discussion.  But I also have to realize, I was not at a place in my life that I could be that honest and vulnerable. 

For most of my life, I didn't want anyone to think that I was not perfect.  I one is perfect.  I knew that in my head, but my heart couldn't stand to think that others thought ill of me.  This was paralyzing and extremely hurtful to my psyche.  It has taken years and many friendships to teach me to love myself in spite of my imperfections.  It took others' love to show me I was okay.  Poor Jack has been waiting years for me to see what he sees.  But, I guess I just couldn't do it until now.  I am thankful that I am young enough to live out of this place and didn't go to my grave with these incorrect thoughts and feelings.

I am also thankful for all of my friends who have loved me and tried to teach me that they loved all of me, not the perfections, but the imperfections too.  I am thankful that Jack never gave up on me.  He continued to love me and show me grace. 

I am also proud of myself for taking that difficult step in talking face to face with someone whom I had built up quite a bit of fear towards.  I am thankful for her making it easy for me, for being as vulnerable as I was, and for her grace.

Who do you avoid in your life?  Who do you grit your teeth when you have to be with them?  Is it possible that there is grace there?  I know not all relationships can be confronted and not all people can be vulnerable.  And I realize there are relationships that must just be walked away from.  But from now on, I will try to be more aware of my own part in my relationships, especially the difficult ones.  What about you?