12 February 2012

Eat your heart out Pinterest

I love beauty. I love when something as simple as a notebook feels special when it has a pretty print on the cover. However, I can get a little carried away sometimes. Like when Annalia's crayon box broke, and instead of just putting them in a ziplock bag, I made a pink, cinch bag to hold her crayons. Which of course meant she needed a matching bag to protect her "I Can Read" books, and now I want to make her cute matching name tags for her book bag and lunch box. See what I mean - a little carried away?

So of course, as Valentines Day approached, I started looking around for a really cool card idea that I could do together with the girls. I found this adorable froggy one - cute, right? Now, don't get me wrong, I think a beautifully, handcrafted card is a treasure, and shows a level of care and thoughtfulness that has been a little lost in our day and age.

But let's be honest, I wasn't going to make those cute froggy cards thinking about how each of
Annalia's classmates would appreciate the thought. No, I want all the mommies to think I am a cool, creative mom who takes time to do fun crafts with her kids.

Well, it was a busy week, (strep throat, scarlet fever, ear infection) and I didn't even think about making Valentine cards. we get to Sunday night, and of course I can't let her go to her class' Valentine's Day party without cards for her classmates. So, I pull out some old Thank You
cards (left over from our wedding) and colorful paper. She starts cutting out hearts, gluing them on, and all by herself, she creates these beauties.

I was humbled. I think about all the beautiful creations on Pinterest that I want to do, adding to this ridiculous list I think will make me a "cooler" person.

Tonight, I watched my daughter carefully cut, glue, and create individual cards for her friends, thinking about each classmate as she chose the colors and style. And I was reminded that this is what I love about handmade crafts. The thoughtfulness. The care.

It reminds me of a lady at church who hosts the most beautiful parties. Little flags label the foods, name plaques tell me which tea is in which pitcher, and the decorations are carefully handcrafted and gorgeous. With each detail, I know that she has been planning for weeks for my visit. She has put thought and care into making me feel welcome and comfortable in her home.

This is what I want to strive for. Thoughtfulness. I don't want to do things to show off, to make myself look cool. I want to make something because I know what joy it will bring to my friends, my family, and myself.

04 January 2012

The Journey

I have never liked due dates. I always thought it was silly that we assigned one specific day for the baby to arrive. With each pregnancy I would work hard to forget the "day" and just think about the general time. But this time, when there is no longer a baby to expect, all I have left is her due date -today- January 4th.

It is hard to reflect on the last 5 months, filled with questions and grief with little comfort and no answers. A week after giving birth to Hope, we moved into our new house - and I hated it. The house that we had bought envisioning 4 kids filling the rooms. Everywhere I looked I saw the spaces I had visually marked out for the new baby. That corner where I might put the swing I finally had space for. The ridiculously huge master bedroom that would have been perfect for keeping my newborn close-by. The beautiful soaking tub I had looked forward to laboring in. I hated it all.

But as it does, life kept moving on. People stopped greeting me with a sympathetic look. School started, both for Justin and Annalia (and myself as we began homeschooling,) Justin was voted in unanimously as the pastor of our church. And we started using our house for all the entertaining and hosting opportunities that has also influenced our purchasing decision.
But as much as I tried, the grief just didn't seem to fade. And with the grief, lots of guilt. I mean, it isn't like mine is the worst story out there. Woman have suffered so much more, losing all their kids in one fatal accident, watching their only child suffer for months before dying, and on and on. Yet I was still so consumed.

And of course, the questions. Why did God give me a baby I didn't plan, only to take her away after I was finally excited? How do I pray in Faith again? And just what role does Faith play in the way God answers our prayers? Did I make a mistake - holding her, naming her? Maybe it would have been easier if I had never seen the person that I lost. The more I dwelt on the questions, the worse I felt.

Psalm 119:28-30 says, "I weep with grief; encourage me by your word. Keep me from lying to myself; give me the privilege of knowing your law. I have chosen to be faithful; I have determined to live by your laws.

We chose the name Hope because it means relying on something that we may not be able to see, or aren't feeling at that moment. There have been many moments these past few months that I have really let God know how I am feeling - and it wasn't pretty. It was easy to lie to myself. To say that God didn't care about me, that He didn't have a plan, and was mistaken if He thought I was strong enough to handle the multiple blows that had hit our family this summer.
But I have learned I can't focus on these things. I have to set my eyes on Jesus. I have to focus on the things I know. The Truth. "Truth soothes our fears, changes our feelings, and shapes our thoughts. The truth is what we need when the hurt is the deepest." It has been a journey, and I am not sure I see the end anywhere in sight. But I guess that is what Faith is for. As for the doubts, fears, and the lies I believe while wallowing in my grief - I guess that is what Grace is for.

"He shot His arrows deep into my heart. The thought of my suffering and hopelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The unfailing love of the Lord never ends! By His mercies we have been kept from complete destruction."
Lamentations 3:13, 19-22