Thursday, September 18, 2008
I have been struggling to hear the Lord's voice lately. Our new life is so busily occupied in so many areas that I have to remove myself from the mayhem sometimes to simply hear my own thoughts. Jim and I spent a good portion of our time away this weekend discussing our new blended family. It's funny because we have gotten into making fruit smoothies at our house lately and are on the hunt for the perfect blender. Our mediocre Cuisanart blender performs sub-par; sometimes the finished product is smooth but sometimes it is full of unblended chunks. Jim and I are growing (sometimes easily and sometimes painfully) into the new type of spouses and parents we need to be, letting ourselves be blended by the Lord. The kids are learning how to be parented by and be siblings to someone new. Christ is by far superior to our kitchen appliance. The difference is He lets us stay unbroken and stubborn if we do not submit to His ways of refinining. We have to give in to His hand smoothing us.
I have joked about the twins sending me into therapy but at times there is more truth behind that statement than I would like to think. They are my challenge. They always have been. Bless their little hearts. Their conception came along in the middle of a very busy life and at the end of a string of 3 pre-existing stairstep-age children. I have gone back over the journey to getting pregnant and having them. When Troy and I began discussing getting pregnant again we knew having 4 small children would be taxing but we had seen many of our other friends do it and knew that our family would feel crowded but would feel complete. I remember just weeks after I took the pregnancy test Troy looked over at me when I was changing clothes and he made the simple statement, "I think you are having twins. You are getting bigger sooner and I just think that would be the craziest thing in the world that could happen since we are out of time, space, money and energy already." I promptly told him he was the crazy one! He never gave up his thought of my pregnancy being twins. I truly think the Lord just decided to prepare one of us and picked Troy. Because the day we went to the ultrasound, I was the one who was shocked and crying uncontrollably when the technician announced the news "IT"S TWINS!". Troy just smiled calmly and smugly said, "See, I'm always right." That was the beginning. Then followed a difficult pregnancy, 5 weeks of bedrest and a C-section. And those were the easy parts! ha. We were so thankful that none of the many complications that can come with multiples happened to ours. But, once those two little girlies showed up our lives got turned upside down. Round the clock feedings and diapers mixed in with three other children's schedules and needs. On top of that Troy was busy being an executive aid and preparing to deploy to war. It was ALOT to say the least. We had a lot of help those first few months and we were thankful for that. Then when the twins were six months old, Troy said good-bye to his new baby girls. We thought it would be until they were 10-11 months old but shortly realized 6 months was all they would ever know this man that was their daddy. The other day they were looking at this snowglobe we have with Troy's picture in it. They said, "Look at the boy!". It broke my heart that they had no idea who he was. I know someday they will look at pictures of him and know who he was but what crushed me they will never KNOW who was. Does that make sense? I was saddened to find we had taken very few pictures of him with either Aspen or Annalise. We were just too busy for many photo ops. And there was always later....I thought.
After Troy was gone, life simply came down to survival. My own and all the childrens'. Most people knew how to take care of babies and that seemed to be the best solution was to give the twins over into other hands, more capable than my own. Many sweet folks met their tremendous needs. I simply couldn't do it. I remember locking myself in my room when they would be crying because the exhaustion and emotions I felt rendered me unable to care what their needs were. I have always loved them but having two tiny babies, on top of the other kids, and losing Troy about killed me. I was always a baby-lover. Just couldn't get enough of 'em. But tragedy changes who we were before. I remember my grief counselor telling me I not only suffered from post-tramautic stress syndrome but from post-partum despression and delayed bonding. I saw those twin girls as the mountain too high to climb at that moment. I took care of them when I could but my hands often got tired of hanging on to everything so, sometimes, the twins had to be the thing I let go of. Praise the Lord for Becky, the Engrams, my family and friends and Jess. They loved on those girlies like you wouldn't believe. I hope someday I can share with the twins how deeply these people invested into their little souls when their mommy could not.
Now, it is time for Jim and I to invest in them. They are not making it easy right now for us. I have never had such demanding or whiny or strong-willed children before- much less two of the same age at the same time. So parenting them is much like embarking on a new frontier. There are powers in numbers and I think they know they outnumber me. ha. Boston, who has always had the patience of Job, said yesterday, "Mom, everyone thinks the twins are so cute but no one knows what they are really like at home." You would think I would have laughed but I really just commiserated with him. They are in a very willful and difficult stage right now. And because of the past hurts and the current winds of drastic change, all of our patience is running a little thin. So I just told him I knew how he felt and this season will pass and we will enjoy them more.
The twins and I are working on bonding with each other. They need to know they can trust me and I need to trust God that He gave them to me, at such a horrible time, for some amazing reason. And that He will give me the strength I need for each new day. I have come to my poor mother, defeated and discouraged with how the process with the twins is coming along. That is when she read Jim and I that passage from Streams in the Desert that Jim quoted in his last blog. I cried when she read the line:
"I longed to leave the commom daily toil,
Where no one seemed to care."
But Jesus said, "I choose for you this soil
that you might raise for Me some blossoms rare."
I think that might be my next tattoo. Just joking. Maybe I will paint it on the wall of our home instead. Aspen and Annalise are my blossoms rare. Just look at these blond haired, blue-eyed, looking nothing like me or Troy, identical twin girls that came along, shockingly, in the midst of the most unthinkably horrible circumstances. And now Jim, who could have grandchildren of his own at their age, has been chosen to love, nuture and father them. The whole thing is just so, well, RARE....
The longer I live I see my God specializes in the RARE. Much like that green leafy vine growing through the layers of hard black volacanic lava rock(see Jim's blog pics from his March trip to Hawaii), He likes to work miracles in the most unlikely of places.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
I had a business trip to DC this week and due to airline "equipment" issues, that's how the airlines refer to the airplane, as the equipment, I arrived in DC 3 hours late and missed the meeting on Tuesday. So after checking into my hotel I decided to go to another meeting I had, one I had tried to keep on several other trips to DC but could never fit into my schedule. I went to Section 60, site 8525 of Arlington Cemetery to introduce myself to Troy.
I tried one other time to go to Arlington but arrived as it was closing. I had thought about this day many times, what do you say? What can you say? I feel a connection to Troy as a fellow fighter pilot, we shared a common love of flying. It is a unique and strong bond the love of flying, and the thrill and blessing to have a dream come true and fly a fighter. To kneel at Troy's grave and know we have never met yet we share life's most personal moments. We never met yet we share the love of Ginger. We have never met yet I watch Boston play on his first club soccer team, feel the touch of Greyson as he seeks stability in his life, drive Bella to her first day of school, and hear the twins call me daddy. I needed to "meet" Troy; I need to talk to him and tell him the kids are doing good, that Ginger misses him. To promise to love and care for his family, to stand in the gap for him. It was a situation you can not prepare for and I'm not sure how to express the feelings in that moment.
Ginger had a similar experience. When I took her to Ft Sam National Cemetery, section 110 site 699, where she knelt and met Andrea for the first time. It was a very emotional moment as I left her alone and watched from the car as they "met."
Ginger's Mom read this to me yesterday morning, it is a quote from a book called "Steams in the Desert." When you find yourself in times of difficulty, especially extreme times this should be one of the first books you reach for after your Bible. This excerpt reminds me that God is sovereign, and He alone holds the eternal view of His creation, the work of His will and His desire...our lives.
And leave behind the dull routine of home,
Thinking in other fields to serve my God;
But Jesus said, "My time as not yet come."
I long to sow the seed in other soil,
To be unshackled in the work, and free,
To join other laborers in their toil,
But Jesus said, "It is not my choice for thee."
To work where souls were sunk in sin and shame,
That I might win them; but the Master said,
"I have not called you, publish here My name."
I longed to fight the battles of my King,
Lift high His standards in the thickest strife;
But my great Captain had me wait and sing
Songs of His conquest in my quite life.
Where all alone I seemed to stand and wait,
To feel I had some human helper near,
But Jesus had me guard the lonely gate.
Where no one seemed to understand me care;
But Jesus said, "I choose you for this soil,
That you might raise for me some blossoms rare."
And now I have no longing but to do
At home, or far away, His blessed will,
To work amid the many or the few;
Thus, "choosing not to choose," my heart is still.