Friday, June 24, 2016

Open to the Life I Have Now

"Open to life."

If you're part of the circles I am, you hear that phrase a lot. It's what we promise at the start of our marriages, it's what we pray about most every month of our married life until our child-bearing years come to an end, it can sometimes be the guilt that hangs over us if we choose to abstain for whatever reason, or the sorrow that plagues us if our openness is not fulfilled with a child.

In my own married life, openness has largely meant waiting. Whenever I have felt ready for a baby, I have waited...sometimes as short as seven months, or as long as fourteen months - still just small bumps in the road compared to those I know who are still waiting, years after they gave their "yes." Five years in and two babies later, I often feel we're on the "slow train" of openness to life...that if we had been given a child every time we said yes, we'd be one of those Catholic families with stair-step children in a row: we'd be in the trenches with those moms of large families, talking about all the awful things people say to us and pricing out 15 passenger vans.

But I'm in a different place right now. I have two small children that I endeavor to love and support through this cross-country move; two little beings that I try to be rock and soft place to, while we all mourn the loss of our home and find a new one in this place that is so different and so beautiful. It is requiring a great deal of me - sacrifices that I am reluctant to give. I am having to make peace with being temporary, when my role in this family is to provide a sense of permanence. I miss Florida and the surety I had raising my children in my home state. There was a strength I drew from its very soil, knowing that I was chasing diapered babies in the same land that my mother, grandmother, and so on did.

In my desperate attempts to find permanence, I sometimes cling to rigidity and mistake it for strength. God help me, it is making me more closed to my children - and here is where it comes in, again, that openness to life. Openness to the lives I have under my care, right now - that's a calling too, that's a promise I made too, when I invited God to give us life. Openness to teaching the same lesson, day after day, because learning takes time. Openness to a child's strong emotions and push back, without letting it ruin my peace and calm. Openness to silliness without mistaking it as defiance, to bluster without seeing it as rudeness, to a certain amount of chaos that I must be able to oversee and overlook with calm compassion.

In this season, the thought of another life is a bit intimidating - sitting here, in my 900 sqft apartment, with most of my things still in deep storage, and my heart still raw - but that doesn't negate my calling that already exists. I can be open to the life I have now and surely God can make this season one of fruitful waiting.

"The soul of woman must be expansive and open to all human beings, it must be quiet so that no small weak flame will be extinguished by stormy winds; warm so as not to benumb fragile buds; empty of itself, so that in order that extraneous life may have room in it; finally, mistress of itself and also of its body, so that the entire person is readily at the disposal of every call." 

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Saturday, May 7, 2016

David: One Year

"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man, what God has ready for those who love Him."
1 Corinthians 2:9

Dearest David,
Over a month ago, you turned a year old. I had wanted to write you a long tribute, but time got away from me! That is a good motto for your entire first year - it got away from me.

Unlike Zuzu's first year, I didn't have all the time in the world to sit and hold and rock you, but you wouldn't have tolerated it anyway. From the first, you have loved your crib and your space. No cosleeping for you, no lingering in my arms - I have so many pictures of you sleeping! in a crib! or a pack n play! or the floor! Because you'll sleep anywhere so long as you have your space.

You really did love your sleep from the first, a fact that has made me sob with joy. That combined with Zuzu getting older means I got some pretty decent sleep in your first year (until you started teething in earnest, but lets not dwell on the negatives).

Remember when we had thrush and you were a newborn and I was a total mess? No, thank goodness, you do not.

 Also unlike Zuzu's peaceful first year, you have been dragged all over in service to the family good: big sister's swim lessons -

Disney water parks - 

The Naples Zoo - 

The beach or pool - 

Even the cold and snow! (that was for the Christmas card photos, I admit) 

In truth, you are very difficult to get a laugh out of! You're sort of a taciturn fellow, not that the pictures I have of you reflect it. Oh it's easy enough to get a halfhearted smile, but a true belly laugh? That IS a feat! 

The three nephews on the Rogers side! 

Three generations of Orams...with a photobomb 

Oh, but you do smile. And your even-temperament is a refreshing change from your sister's steep learning curve on controlling her emotions.

Your unabashed sweetness has brought a tenderness to my mothering that was missing before. I can easily be firm, maybe too firm and a bit dismissive, in my dealings with you precious children and your worries (no doubt your sister can attest to that). You, however, give me a gentleness - you remind me to be merciful. Without you, this aspect of my parenting would perhaps be latent, slower to develop. There would truly be something missing in me without you.

You are such a gift not only because you have expanded my heart as a mother, but simply because of who you are. Maybe because I know now how fast it all goes, I marvel so much more at each step. I worry a little more though - I've seen so much more now, seen the heart ache and pains that can befall parents in their vocation to love and rear small children. Now that I see the fleeting nature of your childhood and the constant possible calamities, I am more worried, more watchful than when it was just Zuzu and I thought nothing would ever happen to us.

You were Jesus in the Christmas play, just like your sister! 

And yet your cheerful demeanor and darling face so often chases clouds of worry far from my mind. Instead, I relish being the witness to your life. 

Now, at just over thirteen months, you are walking all over - just working on your speed and stability. You try to say "all done!", you can wave and clap and drink from a straw. Your dark hair curls around the nape of your neck and around your ears, which when combined with your sleepy wake up face, makes my heart skip a beat. You have kept your deep dimples and the small indent on your right ear, both of which you had from birth. Your nicknames include: Dimple Dave, Davey Baby, Davey Dreamboat, Davey Bubblefish, Bubby Chubs, Davey Pavey, Dave-Dave-Woo-hoo, and Davey Doodle Dot. 

I cannot wait to see you grow up - and yet I can. I know one day, God willing, you'll be as old as your sister - you'll be doing things for yourself and we'll be talking about preschool. That will be so wonderful in its own way! But right now you're little and I get to be the one who rocks you in the wee hours of the night, keeping our own little vigil in those still small hours. In those quiet moments, that are more often now than they usually are for you, I try to pray (when I'm not dozing myself). I pray for many things, but I always pray for you. (That's why God gives children mothers, you know, so that they always have someone to pray for them.) Please don't ever forget that David: no matter how big you get, I will always be loving and praying for you. 

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Sunday, April 10, 2016

So Long, Farewell

If you thought this was me saying goodbye to my little corner of the internet...
you're wrong.

Instead, I'm saying goodbye to my little corner of my home state -

And saying hello to new adventures in a new state.

As we were looking at the map of our new home, Zuzu strolled up casually and said "Michigan? Isn't that a blue state?" Tom and I stared at her with mouth-gaping awe, until she pointed to Lake Michigan and then we were much relieved.

I am filled with such great excitement. Tom and I have felt pulled by God in a different direction for some time; we just weren't sure what he was really asking. We kept exploring different avenues and coming up with nothing, and then the way this opportunity fell into our lap was really miraculous. We feel truly led to this place and this work, despite our shortcomings and haphazard process of discernment.

It's been over a year since we started praying about what God was asking of us and here we are - oh here we are. Yesterday I closed my front door for the last time, walked down the driveway that we had redone, climbed into my mom's car, and drove away. It is surreal. The memories in that house! In this town! Has it really been almost five years for our family, nearly seven for Tom?

So, without further ado, here is my walk down memory lane - that I have been working on for about six weeks, which is what happens when I try to blog and move and raise a family all at the same time.

On our way to a football game...this wasn't in Naples, but Tom was just about to move to Naples! 
We got hitched at the parish that took a chance and hired Tom after three years in seminary and then about a year kicking around Tuscaloosa. I moved to a new town, had all the wedding events, and then was married and moved into Tom's house. I had never lived in any other part of Florida, had no friends in town, and was a bit overwhelmed! 

So Tom and I hung out a lot - we went to the Botanical Gardens (below), explored the surrounding area, and just generally enjoyed being in love. My mom would come down and help me take on projects like cleaning up the porch and painting. 

And makes three. 

Jen was living with us! The good old days! 

A baby means a baptism! 

We had so much fun when Zuzu was our only little love. Since we knew that we could not take it for granted that we'd have more, we soaked up every moment of her babyhood - what if it was the only one we got to witness up close? We loved it. 

Many birthdays were had in our sweet little house...



And we discovered the news that we were welcoming another baby! 

And David Gregory was born! The Monday of Holy Week 2015. 

What a full Easter! 

And life with him was so, so great - and so, so much harder! 

Another baptism...

Lots of sibling love! 

But then, shortly afterwards, we had to say goodbye to our Auntie Jen...

And just a short time was time for us to leave too. 

Though I often complained about Naples - the relentless heat, the skewed demographics, my house without a sewing room - I suddenly found myself overwhelmed with love for this place where we became a family. For Decembers that still allowed diaper-clad babies to eat popsicles outside, for neighbors that were always willing to come over and talk about home improvement projects or sewing ideas. Beach sunsets year round and Panera right across the road, not to mention Royal Scoop ice cream just a bit away! 

So deeply sad to say goodbye, so exciting to see what God has planned for us here...

Coming soon - updates from the land where is snows in April! 

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