Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Love Pains

Have you ever loved someone so much it physically hurt?
I'm not talking about those teeny-bopper crushes you had as a preteen. I'm not even talking about what some jerk guy or girl that dumped you by text does to your heart, and being in the middle of those tough post break up moments.
I'm talking about the moments your love puts their arms around you, or laughs with you, or just sits there smiling at you and being the most amazing human you've ever set your eyes on.

I'm talking about the moment you realize how huge your feelings and love are for this person, and the thought of any harm coming to them causes you the most pain and fear you've ever felt in all your moments on earth so far. I'm talking about seeing them after being separated for a while and it literally feels like your heart is going to explode with an ache that can only be described as a love pain.
It feels like your heart is going to physically break because it is so full of love.

6.5 months old
It's an enchanting love pain that, incredibly, continues to grow as the days tick by. The material of the heart, intentionally designed to be of the most elastic quality in the universe, stretches to what feels like it's very end every day. It's a miracle it doesn't break. But then again, this miracle is nothing compared to the little human sitting before me every day.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Leaving the Drizzle

It's super cloudy out today. A big difference from yesterday, when the sun was out and about, reminding me of beach weather due to the breeze flying around. I miss the beach. I grew up about forty five minutes from Bodega Bay, California. And although we didn't go often, I still feel there's a tiny ocean living in my heart constantly calling me back to the big ocean.
Isn't it true that certain weather, smells, even temperatures can bring a person back to past experiences in a nanosecond? This is especially true for me when I'm tired. I always feel more vulnerable on days like today. The Peanut woke up at four a.m. this morning, FOUR A.M. It's amazing what a few months will do. When she was a newborn that would have been a dream night for me. As for the me of today... I am exhausted. Just goes to show that little people are just like big people, sometimes they just wake up for no reason at all or  have trouble sleeping. I've had a hard time lately in general, feeling more deeply the fundamental changes to my life that she brings. So today is feeling a bit more raw than usual.
The gray sky outside brings me back to Portland. I lived there for several years after I moved back from Florence (another veritable storm of emotionally charged memories). It was there I met my love Casey and the direction of my life changed totally.
One of our first dates. We were clearly a good match as far as weirdness went.
 It was there I took a chance and thought, if I was ever to audition for ballet companies again, it would be now (professional ballet dancers retire at a surprisingly young age). It was there I experienced what felt like a miracle, when a ballet director named James hired me (after training my butt off after a years-long break from the daily grind of ballet). So we moved to Denver, where my new job at David Taylor Dance Theatre (and totally different lifestyle) was waiting.
The cool bite in the air in Denver today reminds me of darkish coffee shops, the drizzle on my face, and Powell's (one of the best bookstores ever) in my previous home-- Portland. It makes me feel the excitement, newness and naivete of my then new marriage. It brings me back to learning New Testament Greek at George Fox Seminary, and while there realizing that I was a whole lot more competent and intelligent than I ever gave myself credit for. I remember the exact moment my professor Mary Kate Morse gave me that gift of confidence by telling me I was actually very good at it. I think she knew I needed to hear it.
When you are in the process of making a place your home, you never really think about how hard it would be to leave, even if it is really the right decision. I left a huge part of my heart in Santa Rosa, in Salt Lake City, in Florence, and in Portland. Each place equally beautiful. Each place gave me some of the most amazing gifts, that I will carry in my heart forever.
What places are you carrying with you today?

Friday, March 6, 2015

Mini's Minis

You learn a lot of things when you have a baby. Some lessons are from the school of hard knocks, like learning how to hold your breath until that dirty diaper is safely in the diaper pail. Or how to keep yourself from running full speed into the nursery (and crying yourself) when your baby is wailing, for the 100th time.
Others are fun lessons. I never knew how much I'd love dressing Mini up. I love the tiny socks, the little hats, and the bows covering everything.

My favorite pair of shoes I've ever seen, baby or otherwise.
People constantly warned me, when I was pregnant and telling them that I was feeling tired, that I should just wait till Mini arrived. That I'd be infinitely more tired (by the way, for any of my first time pregnant friends hearing the same thing--- there are days this is true, but mostly I have found that this is a false statement. That's only me personally, of course. I was a very tired pregnant apparently). Instead, they should have warned me how much fun I'd have putting mini clothes on my very own Mini.
It rivals eating tiramisu while sipping a delightful glass of Pinot Grigio. And if you know me, that is saying quite a lot.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

White as Snow

I'm looking out the window today at the fairly sizable amount of snow still on the ground from the winter storm we had about a week ago. Not surprised it hasn't melted yet. Today's high is supposed to be twenty degrees fahrenheit.

Snow outside our window

Casey and I are used to the cold and snow now, even driving in what others (ahem, MOM) would consider dangerous. My technique is just to go super slow until I'm used to the feel. Annoys the big shots in huge trucks behind me but hey-- sliding is terrifying, and now I have a baby to take care of, so they can deal with it.
The pure white of the snow is striking. Brings to mind the saying "white as snow." Jogs my memory to the lyrics we sometimes sing in church and sang in college ministry meetings in Utah. As a lover of God I yearn to be close to Him (even when I am not aware of that need) and to have a heart white as snow and to be a good, kind person. To not hurt others' feelings, to be a good friend. To always love Adeline as God loves her, perfectly and without failing her in anything. Seems an impossible task, to be like snow.
Deep thoughts for what seems like an early morning. I want to float free of the guilt I feel when living out my worst tendencies, but I am not capable of changing myself at a heart level. The moment I decided that God was going to be the most important thing in my life, He moved in and became my official heart changer.
Years of trying proved to me that I can't change it myself. But He can, and has, and will continue to. It's so much like a marriage-- building into my closeness with Him causes me to be more like Him. You always become most like the people most intimately in your life.
It's pretty miraculous. It's not necessary to depend on myself. As crazy as it sounds, the insanely huge power of God is alive in me, and as I lean into Him I become more of the person I want to be, and the more peace with all things in my world I have.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Prunes and Green Beans

I used to take care of babies for a living. Back in Oregon, one of the few jobs that fit my Human Development/Family Studies degree was to work in daycare. It wasn't the first time I'd worked with kids professionally, in fact I had many years of daycare under my belt before I took the job in the infant room at the Goddard School. There had even been a time in Utah (where I went to college) when I worked in a small room taking care of up to four babies at once. It's always better to work with a buddy, and I was grateful for the company in this new job.
My co-worker was a former traditional stay at home mother and the best baby caretaker I have ever seen. She was gentle yet strong, never lost her temper, and appeared to be a human encyclopedia about all things infant. She was the perfect person to learn about babies from, as well as a very calming presence. This was important because I had just moved back from Italy a few months prior, and my world was in a tailspin. I was also in the process of trying to climb out of a significant depression, something I'd likened to a dark hole many times in my journaling. Her gentle spirit coupled with the healing presence of babies-- have you ever heard of the term baby therapy? It's a real thing-- was, looking back, exactly what I needed. Especially after a difficult break up that came a few months after beginning the job.
A couple days after the break up, I remember standing over my favorite baby Jackson's (yes, I had favorites) crib as he dozed off to sleep. I struggled to hold back the sobs as they rose up in my chest and tightened my throat. Perspective is everything, and looking back on this moment I want to give myself a hug and say, you will be glad this happened because something wonderful, something so much more fitting, is coming. Very soon.
Jackson was a delightfully joyful, blonde and blue eyed little boy. I bonded to him more than any of the other babies for some reason, and I adored taking care of him. I loved feeding him his prunes and green beans. I loved picking him up when he cried and comforting him. I especially loved giving him his bottle. There's something amazing about nourishing a person you care about. This was my first experience of baby love.
I often wondered, as I spooned the puree into his tiny mouth, if this is how it would be when (if? I didn't know if God would give me the opportunity to have my own) I had my own baby. Yawning and tired, wishing for more coffee, yet pulling out the strength to make sure he and the seven others had all they needed for eight hours straight. Some days I just plain didn't want to be there. But every day, God warmed me with His love through Jackson's smile. I learned pretty quick He loves to use babies this way. This the only thing that got me through some of those exhausted or sad days.

Today as I fed my own little peanut her oatmeal and prunes, the feel of the morning and my tiredness pulled me all the way back to those cool damp days in Oregon. Feeding someone else's baby and yet loving him all the same. But now I look at Mini and cannot believe how much more I love her than I thought I ever would, and so much more than any of those other babies. Every bite I feed her gives me the infinite satisfaction that she is getting nourished. God is giving her strength through the mush and I am the person delivering it to her. As much of a privilege it was to take care of Jackson and the other babies more than ten years ago, my own special gift comes with the most deeply felt joy I have ever experienced. Her laughter is my happiness. Her health and wellness is my peace.

Mini in her crib at 5.5 months old.
God is shining through her to me. Even when I don't think about it or see it. Every morning as I go to pick her up, yawning and wanting my coffee, she is happy to see me and giggles. Back in Oregon, I was single and able to spend much more "alone" time with God and concentrate only on Him. Now it is harder. But I want to experience these moments with my baby as much as I did back then. He is looking at me through her eyes, embracing me through her little arms, and filling my heart with laughter through her little voice.
It is a gift never to be taken for granted. And if I could tell my 24 year old self anything, I would tell her, "Enjoy this time, even through your pain. Because these moments are fleeting. But something even better is coming. So have hope."