Archive for the ‘family’ Category


Sometimes you just need a little extra.

My sweet joyful babe hasn’t been so joyful lately. I think she’s realizing that she’s not little, but she’s too small to do some of the things her older siblings can do. She doesn’t like to be lumped in with the baby as “the littles.” Lately she’s been crying over every. little. thing.

This morning so far she’s cried because the Firecracker Princess poured the milk on her cereal. And because she wanted a small spoon. And because she wanted the Tigger bowl, not the Tinkerbell bowl. And because she didn’t get the peach she wanted, obviously the only PERFECT peach out of the dozen.

But it also amazes me how just a little something can heal her heart. When I splashed a little more milk in her bowl, tossed in a few more Oatmeal Squares, gave her a big ol’ hug, and breathed “I love yous” into her neck, she perked back up.

Sometimes you just need a little something extra. It doesn’t have to make sense, it just has to show you that you’re loved.

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The Job Situation

I hinted at this last week, so I figure I should explain.

First, the Music Man still has a job, and for this I am grateful. He taught elementary school band for 10 years in the same neighborhood. This year the principals decided not to have his program, so he was moved.

Mind you, he already drove 45 minutes to work each way, and the new school is 15-20 minutes farther.  And it’s high school. And they get out at 3:20 instead of 2:30. And he’s teaching marching band. After doing the math, that means he’s home 20+ hours per week less than he was teaching elementary.

Part of the reason he didn’t teach high school before was the fact that we have a large family. The time commitment when it comes to marching band is astronomical. Presently I’m struggling with how to manage everything. My attitude stinks, and it’s making us all pretty miserable. However, there’s just nothing that makes it ok for him to be out so late three nights per week that he won’t see his children at all. Sigh.

And there it is.

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Face to Face

Early last week we returned from visiting my family in Ohio. It was a pretty normal trip for me, except that I needed to ask something particular of my mother.

Now, my mom and I aren’t particularly close, and that’s mostly my doing. I’ve been a challenge from the outset, and I can totally own that. But over the last three months I’ve been having some really painful, disgusting memories of things that happened to me at the hands of my father during my toddlerhood.

The Not-So-Casual Observer and I have been working from those memories as if they were true because, well, I have all the symptoms a person would exhibit. But I felt like I needed to know the truth for myself. I’d been praying during the week leading up to the trip that if I was supposed to tell my mother what I remembered, Jesus would make a clear opportunity.

He did.

The first night, I told mom that my father had been in contact with me, and that I was really confused because I remembered X, Y, and Z (general types of abuse, the one I really wanted to know about tucked in there). Not only did she not deny it, she quietly nodded and said, “Uh huh.” I didn’t press, but I did mention the particular kind of abuse a second time, and again, same response.

Sooo, goodbye denial, hello Jesus. And counseling. I hadn’t told the NSCO I was considering talking to my mom about it since I’m only seeing her every other week and hadn’t really decided by our previous appointment, so when I sat down and told her the day after we got back, she was a little stunned. Wide-eyed and slack-jawed, actually. She didn’t actually SAY much about what I’d done, but she was clearly surprised. It was kinda priceless.

Yesterday I had counseling again, trying to work out this Father fathering issue. It’s not pretty, this thing. I don’t like it one. little. bit. Jesus is trying to get me into the presence of the Father, but I’m totally resistant. Yesterday in my session He said there’s something I fear too much to even name and, given the intensity of what I’ve already dealt with, that doesn’t bode well.

This morning He told me something I’ve seen hints of in isolated moments but haven’t wanted to believe, still don’t want to believe. There may be another conversation with my mother in my future, because this one might just drive me crazy, and I have another 15 days until processing with NSCO. Arg.

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To Dance

she gallops, flails, hops across the smooth wood floor
toes tapping firm, seeking their connection to art and earth

there’s joy when her little eye meets mine,
shy smile revealing the jubilee
abandon in motion
purpose in flight

reality is the reunion of toe and plank
gravity’s invisible but sure pressure on little shoulders,
reigning in her wild desire to fly

she leaps again, as if to say that she will not fall into line, will not bow to reason
breaks the laws of atmosphere and expectation

she dances

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This is Grieving

*Sorry if you got an update earlier. I wrote a longish, wistful post that WordPress ate in the 6-second interlude between tagging and posting.*

I’ve always sort of ignored Father’s Day. Since my own father has been out of my life for almost twenty years, I just haven’t paid it much attention. Of course, I woke up this morning knowing it is Father’s Day. I have a husband who is father to our four kids. I have a father-in-law, and even a stepfather. And somewhere in the world, I have a father.

I’ve been listening to Katy Kinard a lot lately. She’s got a song called Here that says, “And I’ve been falling in the open sky/It’s been hard to even breathe/I’ve been waiting for a father’s love to carry me, to carry me.”

It wrecks me every single time. It causes me anxiety, because I’m just starting to admit that I long to be fathered. I know that God placed that desire in my design, but it’s still a Big Scary Thing. Why is it so hard?

One thing Jesus has been telling me is that a father is meant to be a safe place, a tower of strength and protection. My father was the opposite of all of those things, and because of that I stopped believing that anything like security exists. That I’ve never given my heart to anyone since. That I don’t actually trust anyone.

My father abused me. He harmed me in ways that his leaving actually was the better outcome, and yet I still wanted him around. I used to think that that made me sick, that something was wrong with me, because who wants to be abused? Who wants that person’s presence anymore?

But I think now that the desire to be loved is so strong that even an unreasonable facsimile is preferable to total abandonment. Which tells me that my longing to be loved is ingrained. Which tells me that my God placed it in me for a reason. Which tells me it wasn’t my fault.

It wasn’t my fault.

I told Him what He was saying and how I was feeling were painful and a real downer. He agreed, but told me that this is grieving, and that it is powerful and necessary and beautiful.

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families” (Ps 68:5-6a)

And that’s all I remember from the post that was lost. 🙂


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This afternoon the Music Man and I were snuggling with the Radiant One in our bed. I was busy trying to figure out the latest iTunes update (grr), so he went downstairs to make dinner. The baby was climbing Mt. Mommy, but she saw daddy leave and started to cry.

And do you know what he did? He kept right on walking out the door! Like three seconds later, he walked back in and she made her famous squinchy Hero Daddy face and was all smiles, but I was upset.

I said, “There she was crying for you and you just WALKED OUT ON HER!” And then I stopped long enough to realize that was my childhood, not my childrens’. My husband isn’t perfect. He gets irritated and short with the kids sometimes, and it makes me crazy, but he’s never going to abandon them. He’s never going to walk out and leave them crying  just to do whatever he wants.

There are things I wonder. Does a man who abandons his child actually love her? Is he too selfish to love anyone? As a mama with lots of kids, I know that loving children well is a terrifically difficult thing. I couldn’t have done it when I was my parents’ age.

On the other hand, I flat out refuse to accept the excuse that he thought I was better off without him. If you really think you have nothing to offer a child, don’t you MAKE yourself into someone with something to offer? And if not, doesn’t that just mean that you don’t care enough?

Today in my mom’s group (crap, I have to finally admit that I love my new church. Gooey eyes, puffy hearts and neon rainbows and all), one of the girls was praying for me that I would experience my worth, sense the love of God, and know that they loved me. Did you catch the transition there?

I mentioned that I struggle with worth, and this woman, whom I’ve met once and frankly, I was pretty sure couldn’t stand the sight of me, said that she LOVES me. It’s all just so surreal. So I find myself in this bizarre place as an abandoned child who is learning to live in the abandon of loving and being loved. Meantime, I’m just hanging on to Jesus. After all, there’s really no other place to go.

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Y’all, I feel like everything’s falling apart. I mean, I’m safe and fine, but when did my life get so crazy? I’m teaching at AVC in a week and a half and haven’t started writing for it. Did some therapy homework to be published that just flat out sucks, and haven’t lost any discernible weight for a month. Let me off this roller coaster.

On the flip side, homeschool is almost over for the year. Therapy is kicking my butt in the very best way, and we’re getting settled at our new church. I’ve been spending lots of time with friends new and old, and that’s a great thing. Plus, I’m planning another small tattoo before I get a larger piece sometime later this year or early next.

I’ll bring you Fit Motherhood tomorrow, but honestly I think I still weigh the same as I did two weeks ago. At least I know WHY this time *cough*!

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A few weeks ago, Bernadette introduced her massive cast of characters. While my list is much smaller, I want our newer readers to know who’s who in this life of mine. Here goes!

heather — that would be me! Messy, challenging, loved, hugely blessed, silly, created-on-purpose me.

Music Man — Hubs, band director extraordinaire, love of my life.

Firecracker Princess — Our oldest, the six year old dancer whose life changed mine in more ways than I can imagine. Smart, funny, silly, stinky, amazing.

Chubby Cheeked Monster — My only boy so far, four years old. He’s incredible, witty, bright, sensitive, loving, the best kind of brother. Nickname subject to change as he goes from a toddler to a little man.

Joyful Babe —  The three-year-old beauty who captured my heart the second I first held her in my arms. Of all the children, she’s the most like me, and I simply adore her. Loving her heals the little girl inside of me.

Radiant One — The youngest, she’s this beautiful, clingy, lovey dovey precious little creature. I’m head over heels over this one.

Not-So-Casual-Observer (NSCO)– My shrink. Even though I only see her an hour a week, she’s fodder for lots of thinking and writing that ends up splashed across this page. What a privilege it is to work with her, be challenged by her, let Jesus transform me through and with her. Don’t tell her, but she’s who I want to be when I grow up.

Ellebee — One of my best friends; she’s stuck by me for more than half my life, even through the parts that were hideously painful (for both of us).

The Spur — My former pastor and spiritual father. God is bringing us back into some semblance of relationship, and I am grateful.

Red — The spur’s wife.

Ransomed Grace — She who loves me like a mama. Mentored me through dealing with my abortion, took me to Russia on my first mission trip, drives me crazy sometimes, and whom I love like crazy.

Vineyard Community Church (VCC) — Our brand new church home

Atlanta Vineyard (AVC) — Our church home for nearly six years

There are, of course, many more people who make our lives what they are. Some people I choose to call by their real names. Generally, when I share a piece of someone’s testimony (with permission), or if we’re in conflict, I give a nickname to protect their identities and my integrity. Of course, my babies’ names are private since they’re just little!

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Sometimes I get a little dejected when I think about all the ways it is possible to screw up a kid. I mean, I’ve got four so far, and it’s probable that at least one of them will end up on the couch because of my parenting. That bums me out. For the last few days, Jesus has been speaking to me about a few things related to my family history and my mothering.

The raging, screaming, shaming of my kids: It stops with me.

The alcoholism tearing families apart: It stops with me.

The barrenness and lack of heart for children: It stops with me.

The secret abuse: It stops with me.

Because of Jesus, because of His promises, generational curses are being broken. My simple faith is bringing new life to my offspring and, God willing, they will never have to live some of the things I’ve lived through. This brings me joy, knowing that my babies will be protected from things I couldn’t protect myself from.

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Is there anything worse than an ultimatum? No one likes to be backed into a corner, and when the decision is difficult or emotionally charged, that makes significantly worse. I find myself in that situation now, and I’m not liking it.

Less than three months into my father’s reappearance into my life, and I get the “If YOU want to be family, it’s up to you” message. Wait, what?

First of all, you don’t KNOW me. You don’t know anything about me, my family, my childhood, what things were like when you up and left.  You were gone for almost twenty years, and in 80 days you want me to let you back in? Heck, I don’t even know what it would mean to have you back in my life, much less whether I’d even want to!

Second, NOW it’s my decision whether I want to be a family? Now, after you abandoned me to go pursue your wanderlust? Hmm. Would’ve been nice to have a say in the matter when I was young enough to need a parent (because I did need a parent).

I feel stuck. I don’t know this man, I don’t like the way he’s behaving (blamestorming, anyone?), and I don’t see a need for a father. However, knowing how he comes and goes as he pleases, this feels like it might be my only chance to know him at all.

A dear friend has told me a couple of times, “It’s never too late until the grave.” I agree with her, but who knows when the grave is coming? Do I have a couple of decades to be ready to reconcile? Do I have to do it right now?

I feel like I’m trying to force myself to want a relationship, to do the “Christian” thing. I WANT to want to have a relationship, but right now, I don’t.

I’m tired of this ultimatum hanging over me, but I’m not ready to respond. Who I am as a person dictates that I be gentle, because it’s not my heart to be hurtful on purpose. All that to say, this sucks, and I have no idea what to do. Hmm…

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