A new pair of shoes

I was grumbling.  Grouchy.  A touch irritated.

A new pair of shoes for my girlie wasn’t on my budgetary agenda today.  But after the 2nd failed attempt to repair the soles on her “go-to” pair, I realized it just became my reality.  I say “go-to” pair because, well, it’s her only non-dressy, non-flip flop, non sneaker option.

Sigh.

What started as a grudging replacement of a still perfectly fitting shoe turned into a full-fledged mom moment.  I don’t know about you, but with growth spurts as frequent as the recent blizzards in the north, I won’t buy shoes unless they are out-grown.  But, alas, I found myself cruising Target (home away from home) looking for a suitable replacement.

Enter the mom moment:  she doesn’t fit in any of the kid shoes.

I passed her a (very cute) pair of size 6 women’s shoe.  “Try these just for kicks…I don’t think they’ll fit, though”.

Wrong.

My internal mom-olog was something like this: Surely those are too big (mashing toes with my thumbs), they AREN’T too big, wait…these are size 6’s?  She’s too little for size 6…she’s only 9…wait, ok, well, 9 and a half…but still…she’s my little girl!!  This isn’t happening, right?  Adult shoes?  Really?  Already?  Nooo…this isn’t happening.

Mom moment.  As I gazed at the row of shoes with their sky-high heels and chunky wedges and looked at my daughter I realized, ready or not, she’s moving on up.  Faster than I thought.  I’m super thankful for the still relatively innocent and naive demeanor she has, but it masks the fact that 5th grade is almost upon me.  Giggles with girlfriends as they whisper secrets.  Crushes.  Deodorant.  Greater mood swings and pimples.

In that moment, as I was placing those super cute adult sized shoes in the cart, I faced the fact that we all know but in the day-to-day of life, we never see clearly.  They grow up.  And I wonder, with what I’ve taught her, and will continue to teach her, will she grow up confident in who her God is?  Will she continue to trust Him?  Will she figure out who she is and not who others want her to be?  Will she know, truly know, how much she is loved?

Only God knows.  In the meantime, I’ll watch her prance in her new shoes and try to hang on to every moment I’m allowed.

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Dark night confessions

If you have seen me in recent months, you’ve still seen my smile.  I’ve still been, when not ill or providentially hindered, in church, with my kids, homeschooling, managing my home to the best of my ability and trying to accomplish the tasks I have.  And some may know the some of my struggles to do that…to continue to walk, to move, to love, to pray and to smile.  Others have no idea that in the space of 4 months I have lost a best friend to a far away state. I’ve deeply struggled in the understanding of my son’s learning difficulties and how to motivate him. In the diagnosis of a lung tumor in my otherwise healthy brother and subsequent life-upheavel as he and his wife and 2 boys move in with my parents while he undergoes painful surgical procedures.  In the loss of yet another friend.

I’ve gone back and forth in wanting to write here or speak there of what is going on in my life, but I’ve been fearful of spilling more than I should.  Of hurting others with what I say or drawing attention to something I shouldn’t.  So I haven’t spoken.  I haven’t shared.  I have retreated within the relatively safe walls of silence and internalization.    Not all secrets are bad.  They’re just…secret.  Personal.  And sometimes not my own to speak of.

But, I can speak of my own.  Finally.  I’ve accepted the fact that I need to build new friendships locally since one has moved away (all the while keeping up with her too).  I’ve, not perfectly, but steadily, learned how my son processes information.  I’m learning what helps him, what hinders him and how best to teach him and love him so that he is not discouraged or despondent.  I have hope, where just a few months ago I despaired of reaching him.  Of showing him that God made him unique and special and it’s GOOD, even if it’s hard and different.  My brother is, praise God, cancer free.  He’s also missing a third of his lung, but in light of all that could have been, this is truly a mercy.  I’ve gotten to spend time with my nephews, the cousins have spent time together in the weeks they’ve stayed here and those memories will last for a long time.  And while I still don’t understand the loss of my second friend, and I am unsure if I’ll ever have the relationship we had back, I endeavor to work with what I have left.

Things have been very painful behind the smile.  I’ve gone to bed at eight o’clock because I don’t want to face any more hours conscious.  I’ve pulled away from others and tightened my sphere’s of relationships to almost nothing, terrified that I’d break under any more stress.  I’ve kept the heartache inside, not to be fake or to pretend that all is well, but because some times pain is too deep for words.  And when words are not sufficient, what else can be done but retreat and cry?  Or when its too deep for tears, to stare numbly at what life has become?  And, slowly, through God’s love, kindness and tenderness, hope returns.  Smiles come more easily.  Good is seen behind the pain and upheaval.  Being distant loses it’s safety and sanctuary and once more I want to be in the lives of people.  It’ll be clumsy at first.  I’ll fumble my way around casual conversation like the introvert I am, but I’ll remember how.

As I look around at the people I know and love, who may never have known how deep this dark night has been for me, I realize that others may be in their own dark night.  Smiling, going through the motions of their day, answering questions honestly but emotionlessly for fear of breaking down.  I pray for you.   And I hope that when the dark night is over, they can stand with me, seeing how God has mercifully protected them from soul-damning harm, from despair and hopelessness.  It may look that dark for the night, but hope rises with the morning.

Arise, my soul, arise.