Another birthday!! Bless you, ErinLee!!

My ErinLee, elder daughter by 363 days turned 26 today!  I texted her at 12:05 a.m., PDT, her time, which, and yes, I was up, was 2:05 a.m., here in Wisconsin.  I was working and reminiscing about the birth of my first child, 26 years ago.  She was so tiny, just 5lb, 13 oz, at birth and  5 lb, 8 oz, when we left the hospital. It was absolutely love beyond compare.  Who knew?  Y’all who are mothers reading this would know, but I was rocked by the depth of emotion.

I knew she was going to be Erin Lee – she changed the spelling and I like it, but I knew way before she was born.  In fact, I embroidered her name in gold floss on the Christmas stocking I started in the summer.  I also sewed her first Christmas dress, red velvet and white satin, again, before she was born and those were the days before we had whatever the test is that tells the baby’s sex, unless you had a difficult pregnancy, which I did not.  My doctor kept telling me there was a 50/50 chance and you should have seen his face when I showed him her Christmas stocking.  I knew.

She’s a joy, talented, funny, beautiful and I’ve always been amazed at how she sees the world, through artist’s eyes, so unlike myself.  I began this post hours ago, thinking about my child,  took a break for  a special lunch with my 11 yr-old niece, Reno; we called ErinLee.  Then ErinLee called me and we had a wonderful hour-long visit; now I’m back to choosing some photos to insert here along with the birthday song.  So my darlin’ daughter, and yes, she does speak French, réalisez vos rêves.

Quintessential ErinLee playing in the leaves!

ErinLee and MummaLee at Bagley Rapids 10.09

City Kid ErinLee at the Museum of Natural History in Chicago '09

Joyeux anniversaire!!!         Je t’aime, votre, maman!

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Smiling at this Lenten Memory

Who knew when deciding to embark on the next 30 days to leaving the Shoulds and an Illegitimate Ruler behind that it would coincide beautifully with Lent?  Well, Someone knew and ya gotta love how these things work out 🙂  So my Lenten journey it will be.

I’ve never been one to “give something up for Lent.”  Why?  Because I was raised in a traditional Protestant denomination and we didn’t do that.  As an adult I did, however, observe Lent in some way.  The one that sticks out  in my mind ALWAYS was the year I decided to switch to a Lent focus for our breakfast devotional time, more than a decade ago.

Those were still the days of getting children out the door to school each morning.  They were growing up, though, not little girls any more – both freshman that year (longer story) – two different schools, different start times, one requiring me to drive  12+ miles one way.   But we continued breakfast together every day – cereal, oatmeal, french toast, whatever, served on the breakfast counter with juice and supplements and a quick devotional to send us all out the out the door wrapped in peace and love against a cruel world.

The year in question I chose to switch to a Lent focus by reading portions of one of my favorite authors, Max Lucado.  Max has great books for everything but my favorites for Lent are  Six Hours One Friday, No Wonder They Call Him Savior, He Still Moves Stones, Applause of Heaven.  My thought was to use a small portion of one of the books each morning, but that was not so well received.  One of my daughters began to protest about the extra time it would take, and we all know time in the morning can be at a premium.    One thing led to another and in short order our morning sharing time was not so pretty.  I was hanging on to my right as the mother to insist.  My daughter was hanging on to her position as a young teenage girl.  So sparks began to fly, with the other daughter caught in the crossfire.  So much for sending my children out into the cruel world wrapped in peace and love each morning.

My good friend, Marlee, veteran Bible study partner and (at that time) mom of teenage daughters a few years ahead of mine, was a great resource.  So I went to her with my dilemma and lo and behold, the advice was not what I was anticipating.  She was supposed to tell me that I was absolutely right in my right to insist and that I should stand firm.  Didn’t happen.  What I got was the advice that perhaps the time had come to release my daughter’s relationship with the Lord to my daughter and the Lord.  What??  I’m her mother!!  It’s not time yet and I’ll decide!!  Think maybe I had challenges with the “Shoulds” way back then 🙂

I had to do something and gave sincere thought to Marlee’s suggestion, took it in prayer, and went to separate breakfast times and back to the original plan of a brief teen-centric devotion and less strain in the morning.  I don’t remember how long we continued the routine of devotion in the morning, but I believe through most of high school.  One of those rites of passage, but a treasured memory in this mother’s heart.  AND I just took a moment from writing this post and called Marlee.  We had a brief conversation, chuckled together at the memories and made arrangements to get together soon.  And Lent 2009 begins in a few days….

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Countdown 8 Days

One week and one day – I can hardly wait.  What does that mean anyway?  Of course I can wait.  How would I NOT wait?   I will do what countless women have done through the ages – clean something! In fact, I have closets, cupboards, drawers, all of which will be at least touched up before I leave on holiday.

What is it – something passed down from my own mother?  Absolutely! As a child, prior to every vacation the house was made spotless, including “wiping up the floor” on hands and knees as we made our way out the door. I haven’t done that lately, but in August of  ’07 prior to going in for a second brain surgery, I pretty much hit every closet, drawer, cupboard, you name it.  I even called in reserves to help.  My friend, Karen, gets it and answered my call for help.  Her job was to take the steamer to all the clothes in the laundry room, to make sure everything was steamed and properly put away before I went to the hospital.  Can I get an Amen here?  Surely someone can relate :).

This is a fairly literal interpretation of the Biblical putting one’s house in order,  II Samuel 17:23, which, by the way, preceded a suicide.  Short of working myself to death cleaning all these closets, drawers and cupboards pre-holiday, along with daily living, teaching, conducting business as usual plus several meetings, and participating in some Christmas socializing, I’m not intending to do myself in.  My girls would be grinning – they’ve lived through their mom’s pre-holiday/vacation ritual many times.

But action cures lots of emotional ailments and it certainly beats the heck out of sitting here nibbling on my nails.  Oh, note to self, add MANICURE to the to-do list, may as well make it mani-pedi as I’m not packing the five pairs of boots I wear out here from September through March.  These feet will be slipping into sandals or flips in just over a week now, late December, no less.

So how do I wait?  I’ll clean and organize, make a few lists, pack,  sing and dance my way through the chores, praising the Lord that in just eight days I’ll be hugging my younger daughter and maybe even tucking her in and saying prayers once or twice as we did so every often in times past.  Does it get any better?

P.S.  Check out the links for  “mani-pedi” and  “five pairs”  above – an online grammar guide and an URBAN dictionary, you gotta love it :)!              à plus tard …………..,  LeeAnn

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SNOW DAY!!!!

There was a time when the words Snow Day brought a great deal of excitement.  An unexpected gift, a free day, no school, put on your snow-pants – remember those? – and head outside to make snow angels, a snowman or just play in the snow.  Funny how things change as we get older …..

When my children were in school, Snow Day took on a different meaning – more of a Now What? kind of meaning.  Now I was encouraging my girls to get out and play or ice-skate in the backyard, then come in to a roaring fire and hot chocolate.  Dry the wet clothes, shovel off the deck and front sidewalk, haul in the wood and build the fire, make that hot chocolate, a bit more work than being the kid.

These days the meaning is a bit different.  Out in the country, on my own, no ice rink in the back yard right now,(though that will change as the Homestead project evolves), while undoubtedly beautiful, getting this much snow means a fair amount of work.  The mere process of getting dressed to head out there takes several minutes.  Then there’s the inevitable mess – wet boots and wet dogs need to be cleaned up after, puddles on the floor, scarves and coat snow-covered and dripping from getting hit with the snow you’re trying to blow away.

And today’s point?  There could be several, but I’ll go back to the concept of “perception is reality,” talked about in a previous post.  My perception tonight is much different than it was at noon when I had an hour to move enough snow for a student to get in the door.  When I was out just a little while ago with my dogs everything is white and beautiful.  My perception at this point in  life is much different than when I was a child in snow-pants.  The group I facilitate, Celebrate Recovery, uses a song called White as Snow (words and music by Leon Olguin), and it’s a wonderful song.  My perception these days being much different than when I was young, I so appreciate the idea that through a relationship with Jesus, I’m made white as snow – despite anything in the past, all the mistakes, all the errors in judgment, you name it, I’ve been made white as snow and you know what?  It’s BEAUTIFUL and it can happen for you, too!   Till next time ….

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