Pain By Any Other Name Still Hurts

I’m not comfortable with pain.

Hurts of any kind are a reality we experience from the time we’re born. Unavoidable and inevitable.

Nobody does pain quite as genuinely as children. They experience personal injury, and there are two responses. Bounce back and continue playing. Or wail and weep and demand help.

Until they see blood. Then all bets are off and someone better step in and fix it.

While in Miami, I took two-year-old Brooklyn on a walk to the park to give her a chance to get out of the house.

The first thing little B wanted to do was swing. The little ones by herself and the big one with me. We  moved on to slides and climbing things.

When she was done with the slide, she found a ramp to run up and down. The first several times were a plethora of squeals, giggles and grins. “I run so fast, Nana!”

About the fifth time down, the inevitable happened. Her shoes slipped in the sand and she skidded a distance on her knees.

The way she went down, she could have lost a lot more skin than she did. When I checked, it was a tiny scrape. I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, so I helped her up and suggested we run down the ramp together.

Great idea until she saw her knee.

And the tiny drop of blood.

“Oh, no! Nana, I’ve got a booboo.”

Conciliatory Nana thought to diffuse the situation by not focusing too much on the scrape.

She wasn’t having any of it.

She sat in her stroller for the ride back, her wounded leg stretched out in front, peering at her booboo.

Think fast, Nana.

The ducks saved the day.

“Look at all those ducks, Brooklyn. What do you suppose they’re doing?” We walked toward the feathered creatures, who were quite content to ignore us. We noticed how they were different, guessed which were mama ducks and which were papas. And saw a mama sitting on a nest.

We talked about ducks all the way home. However, the first thing she did when we got back was show her mom and dad her booboo.

Distraction only works so long.

I don’t deal well with pain. I can put a smile on discomfort and hurt and pretend all is well. It’s easier to be distracted than deal with pain, especially of the heart.

Sitting well in hurt is challenging. I’ve not grieved well the loss of Mom two months ago. I stay busy and try not to let it catch me.

Pain is more persistent than I am. It demands attention. It nags me if I don’t address it.

As an adult, I’m not looking for a bandage for my heart. I need help to process what hurts.

Jesus understands our pain. He’s experienced it at length for us.

And He’s promised to walk through ours with us if we let Him.

Healing of any wounds takes time. Knowing I don’t sit in grief and pain alone gives greater comfort than dealing with it by myself.

Letting Jesus bear the burden of my sorrow and hurt is better than a band-aid.

His love is the comfort I need when I can’t comfort myself.

 

 

 

 

 

Do You Really See Me?

Nobody likes to be pushed aside.

Even for a great reason.

Brooklyn, at two, has waited with great anticipation for baby brother Mason to show up. She’s been kind to him, giving him kisses when she’s supervised, holding his pacifier in his mouth under the kind eyes of her dad.

She wasn’t prepared for the amount of time it would take to care for a newborn.

She gets that her mom has to care for Mason and gives her grace to do what only Mom can do for her brother.

But when Dad has to hold baby brother because Mom needs to care for her recovery, it’s a little more strained. Not that she’d ever complain about the little guy. But she demands more from her dad and becomes a little perturbed when he’s focused on Mason.

Does everyone have to pay so much attention to Mason?

I’m here to help for a time, and she understands fully that I could do what she asks her dad to do. I’ll try to engage her in play and conversation, but she’d rather have Dad do it. Have Dad to play with. Have Dad make her snack.

I’m fairly invisible when I try to meet her needs.

It’s not intentional. She’s had her world turned upside down, and even though she anticipated the arrival of her brother, it wasn’t what she expected. Change is hard. For everyone.

Tiffany and Ramsay are experiencing long nights and no sleep. Focusing on child number one while child number two has immediate needs is different. And challenging. As much as they knew that their new norm would cause them to adapt, the reality is bigger and tougher than they had prepared for.

Such is life.

Change happens. Every day of our lives. I act like I’m dealing well with understandable expectations–until I’m thrown a curve ball and something happens that I didn’t see coming. If I’m in a good place–plenty of sleep, calm environment, doable circumstances–I can flex appropriately.

How often does that really happen?

Life is unexpected; we’re not in control. We live in a world where other’s actions and decisions affect our lives, where we’re impacted by things we didn’t plan on, things we can’t predict.

I get frustrated when I can’t manage the circumstances of my life. When things feel out of control and I begin to react instead of respond like a capable adult.

I’m not always adept at the capable adult part.

I want to throw a tantrum, like Brooklyn does when her life feels messy. I want to pout and choose not to act appropriately.

Not really an option.

But God sees me in my mess. In my frustration and anxiety, He knows my circumstances. They’re never a surprise to Him, never something that makes Him want to give up on me. I can’t shock Him with my reactions nor disappoint Him with my behavior.

Brooklyn experiences such love from her parents, whether she knows it or not.

Me? I’m seen by the One who made me. Loved without hesitation.

No matter how invisible I feel to anyone else.

 

 

Hadn’t Considered The Cost

He finally came. With all the fanfare and audience participation expected for occasions such as these.

Mason made his entrance into the world.

Our pokey puppy of a grand took his sweet time. The doctor told my daughter Tiffany and her husband Ramsay at their last visit that she  believed him to be a big boy, and if Tiffany wanted to have a vaginal delivery, she didn’t want him to get much bigger.

They scheduled an induction for early Tuesday morning.

With the decision made, everyone breathed a sigh of relief. The baby would come. The parents might have some control about when it would happen.

They checked in to the hospital at 7 in the morning, and the work began.

Wonderful doctors and nurses worked with them throughout the day. I was there with Ramsay’s folks, and two-year-old Brooklyn was with us asking when Mason would come out to play.

It had been a rough day. Tiffany finally got an epidural for the pain, which was helpful. She didn’t progress quickly. The nurses noticed the baby’s heart rate would occasionally drop with the contractions. He also didn’t tolerate the use of certain drugs to help concentrate the contractions to make them more efficient.

There were whispers of a possible C-section. Tif wanted to avoid that if at all possible. She’d had one with Brooklyn because the baby had been in stress and when she was finally delivered, the cord had been wrapped around her neck twice.

Tif wanted to persevere. The doctor said the little big guy had great recovery periods, so they pushed ahead.

But after being poked and prodded for hours, when it came time to push, Tif was exhausted. I got to stay in the room with them and be part of her cheering team, but I was exhausted watching what they were going through. She gave it everything she had, and she and Ramsay worked like a precision team. And when Mason was finally born,we all seemed to let go of our collective breaths.

Everyone was grateful.

It didn’t stop there. Tif tore badly, and she lost a lot of blood and fluid. As I watched them weigh and measure my newest grand, I turned to see Tif, still bleeding and looking white as a ghost.

It took over an hour to suture the tears, to control the bleeding. They had to transfuse her because of the great amount of blood loss.

But when they put Mason on her chest, her smile was radiant. It cost her a lot to bring that little boy into the world. But the love she has for him made it worth it.

Parents are typically like that. Loving their child and doing whatever it takes to provide for their health and safety.

Jesus made His great sacrifice that we could be brought into new life. New hope. Eternal safety. His shed blood is the only path by which we may be fully forgiven and fully received.

The price of hope for new life and the guarantee of heaven is one that was paid by Someone else’s blood.

Not a cost anyone else would choose to cover.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Might We Expect You?

photo by qb 490202 on unsplash

Mason is already a pokey puppy.

Not even born yet, he’s bypassed his due date and made everyone’s schedules just a little more challenging.

Big sister Brooklyn might be better with the wait than anyone else–she’s being gently though decisively dethroned for a new brother.

She still doesn’t know what to expect.

Tiffany is ready to have this baby. It’s been a tough pregnancy. Her back has hurt most of the time because she’s carrying all out front. Maneuvering with a baby on board slows things down but doesn’t negate needing to do all those things.

It’s rather amazing that this is how we all got here.

I know what this is like. Of my six kids, only one was born a little before her due date. All the others waited–and kept us waiting.

As time passed, I’d wake thinking, “Today may be the day.” Everything that happened would be secondary to the focus that I’d soon be in labor.

Another day would pass. The waiting would continue.

I could pretty much guarantee that when a baby did choose to arrive, it wasn’t convenient. For me, for John or for whoever would be watching our other children at the time. There was no note asking if now was a good time. No auto alert that things would be moving toward the final curtain in a determined period of time.

When it finally happened, I wasn’t ready. I never pre-packed a bag. I never thought ahead to what the other kids may need in my absence.

Knowing a baby was coming, I didn’t prepare well.

Mason will get here. Pregnancy doesn’t last forever.

It just feels like it does.

How well do I prepare for anything I know will be happening? People coming over for dinner. No problem. Needing to leave on a trip. Done deal.

What about those things that don’t have a due date? I know something’s coming–I just don’t know when?

Such is the return of Jesus.

He said He’s coming back when this world has run its course. He’ll collect His own and judge those who don’t know Him according to absolute truth and righteousness.

There will be no leniency, no space for excuses.

I’m no fear monger. I believe, as do most people alive, that this world, as we’re living in it now, can’t be sustained forever. No matter what we do.

Many believe this life is all there is. That’s tough considering how unfair life in general is.

Many others believe an afterlife exists–and are hoping they’ve “done” enough to get to the good place.

There’s only one way to be sure. Give the burden of our wrongdoing to Jesus, who already paid the price for it.

He is coming back. His time. No one knows when that is.

We’re not sure when Mason will come, but it will be sooner rather than later. We’re ready.

The question we all need to ask is how ready are we to deal with the return of the King?

 

 

 

My Hat’s Off To Whom?

 

I wish I had a hat head.

I don’t. It’s rather large, as heads go, and I look foolish wearing them. My kids and the grands, on the other hand, look…well, grand in hats.

As a child, my sisters and I used to get cute hats for Easter. We’d parade around like we were on the runway. Growing up in Chicago, it snowed frequently on that Sunday. Easter hats and heavy coats didn’t make a great fashion statement.

We thought we looked fabulous.

Winter was always the time for funky caps for protecting heads and ears. When it got cold enough, even Dad wore a fedora. It made him look a little like a movie star. Or mobster.

Living in the Sunshine State, I wear baseball caps to keep the sun off my face. Purely utilitarian–shade for my eyes, protection from skin cancer.

Heather and I were at our town center with Sydney and Isley–two ends of the fashion spectrum. Isley is all about putting outfits together, color coordinating and looking glamorous. Syd’s value is comfort, preferably athletic shorts and shirts. Both had fun trying on hats.

 Both looked amazing.

Hats have a variety of purposes. Some make statements. Brooklyn at two is a die-hard Dodger fan and wears her hat proudly. Of course, there were no options with both parents being of the same fan base.

Others are for clear protection from the elements. Sloane has a variety of winter hats because, living in Washington DC, there’s been a plethora of snow and cold.

Huck and Landry? They just like looking cool.

I could never keep my kids in any kind of protective head ware when they were young. Winter caps, sun bonnets, little baseball caps–they were always ripped off their heads.

I wear a variety of hats in my job, though none are visual. I wear my coaching hat when I’m working with gals who are transitioning into new jobs or life phases. A mentor hat when I have the chance to encourage younger women who need a word from a more “weathered woman” about next steps as they move forward. A peer hat when I work with my team on problem solving and development.

I’ve got hats for being a wife, mom, nana, sister and friend.

The hardest hat for me to wear is the one that reflects me. Just me.

It’s not difficult for me to show up at my job and do the work I really love. Or put on the nana hat and help out with the grands. It’s totally fun to put on the wife hat, now that we’re empty nesters, and enjoy being with my husband.

But the “me” hat–that’s tricky.

I’m a people pleaser, so I can tend to look like a chameleon. Show up one way for one person who has specific expectations of me. A totally different look for someone else who doesn’t see me the same way.

Am I either?

The one Person who sees me as I really am is Jesus. Nothing hidden. All my junk and clutter exposed. He sees me and fully accepts me as I am.

No hat required.