Privilege of Loss

I’ve been blessed to go home to the mid-west multiple times in the last 12 months. My checkbook might not be feeling very blessed, but it did survive!

First Kylie was born!

Then, a couple months later, poor Kelsey got sick. Then Chelle got married! Each time I am swept off my feet by how much I love my sisters… and their husbands… and their daughters… and my parents. I am in love with steamy-hot Kansas and Oklahoma. I am in love with what will always be home.

Quite literally, I live a nomadic life. Patrick and I unpack as little as possible with each move, just to avoid re-packing it later. I am of the mind that if we don’t open in the two years that we live somewhere, everything in the box is disposable. He doesn’t agree. Anyway, that’s beside the point.

When I flew home after Kylie’s birth, I felt buoyant. I had enjoyed every moment, hugged at every opportunity, stayed up late, and soaked all the life out of every flicker of the second hand. But suddenly, as Kelsey drove away, and I stood on the curb outside DFW my heart lunged toward my feet.

Oh how it hurt.

To leave.

To leave Kylie.

To leave my sisters.

Say goodbye for longer than a restful night.

The pain was all-consuming. I wandered into the airport feeling lost and listless, panicked and angry. What time would pass, what days would lengthen Kylie’s little body? What progress would be made toward Rachelle’s wedding day? What tears would drip without my knowledge? What happy moments would I never experience?

Never mind that I would have my own happy moments, tears, friends, joys, growth… my own life. I would miss them. The pain wedged itself in my windpipe and fought each inhale for my whole flight home. Slowly, it loosened…

When Brave ran into my arms at my own front door,

When Patrick came home and we sat down to watch our favorite TV show together.

That’s another privilege of pain I realized. Do you see it? What if there was nothing wonderful about my sisters? Nothing compelling about home? Nothing to long for, look forward to? Isn’t it far better to have someone to cry for than to shed no tears at all?

Recently, my Bible study girls shared prayer requests. One of the girls asked for prayer for her grandmother. Another one mused out loud, “How blessed you are to have had grandparents for over 30 years!” In my self-pity moments after a sad goodbye, I don’t stop to be grateful for the fact that I have someone to miss.

My grandfather died last year and it hurt deeply. But I had loved him and been loved by him for 30 years.

I am certain that I would rather feel the pain of longing, the ache of loneliness and the tears of goodbye than to have no one to love, no one to miss, no one to hug goodbye.

“I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.” Tennyson

Run Baby RUN

Obviously, endurance is important in a marriage. You’ve got to survive the honeymoon, then the seven-year itch, then the kids and dirty diapers, the moves, the financial catastrophes, the football games and shopping trips, the burnt dinners, the in-laws and late nights without courtesy phone calls.

For many of these posts, you have endured my cloaked complaints about the ups and downs of marital bliss.  I can tick off the idiosyncrasies that I have endured but I haven’t humbly given credit to my husband’s endurance.

A prime example of his endurance and patience is our recent road-trip back to our roots in Oklahoma and Kansas. Patrick drove 20 hours each way. He stopped every 2-3 hours for my pathetic bladder. He allowed my dog to climb up, back and over the seats when he wanted to sit in my lap. He let me pack home twice as much stuff as I packed to begin the trip. And he barely complained at all!

Have you ever considered how you have benefitted from another’s endurance? I’m not just talking about putting up with you (that may or may not be a chore). Patrick and I have prospered in direct proportion to our parents’ endurance. Both of our parents’ are still married – my own just celebrated their 37th wedding anniversary! CONGRATULATIONS AND THANK YOU, DAD AND MOM! All of our grandparents honored their wedding vows well over 6 decades, till death parted them. Now, I easily run to the arms of my mom or mother-in-law with full assurance that they will advise to the preservation of my marriage – not to simply tickle my ears.

I have been noticing and admiring endurance in many aspects of life, recently. My sister, Kelsey and her husband have embarked on a long blessing that will require great endurance. I introduced you to Kylie , in November. Doubtless children demand endurance!

My youngest sister just got engaged to one of the most fantastic men. She endured a long, sometimes long-distance dating relationship while she waited for God’s perfect timing for the marriage. I’m sure these last few months of waiting for the date to arrive will seem to stretch on forever, but it will be worth it!

What are you enduring? Is it painful? Is it in high hopes of a wonderful future? Is it worth it?

As Christians, our high calling is to be Christ-like. Endurance is an indisputable requirement to imitate our savior.

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:2

It will all be worth it.

Whistle While You Work

Don’t get wrong, I am fully aware that there are multiple occasions that warrant a good cry. In fact some of those occasions allow for screaming (if you’re alone) and stomping and banging on the counter tops. Traffic jams, (lots and lots of traffic situations) being stood up, stubbing your toe…

But, Snow White had a point, “Whistle While You Work.”

I never finished my traveling story last Tuesday from the airport. After I wrote to you, I continued to pace the terminal for another 2 hours. I arrived in Dallas about 3 hours later than I was scheduled and three hours itchier to see my new niece. On my trip home, I boarded the plane right on time, we sailed through turbulence and touched down three minutes past ETA. Then…we disembarked and I hustled to the baggage claim and the shuttle counter.

I had failed to consider that other people might want to ride my shuttle. Three other people to be exact. And we were leaving the airport at 5:30. And it was raining. Our driver gets credit for taking every possible opportunity to jut between bumpers and dart across traffic and cut the edges on construction zones. But even with all his assertive driving, I didn’t get home until nearly 7:30 p.m. Argh – 3 hours after landing.

Now I was three hours itchier to pick up my puppy. I ran into the house to find that it looked like a bachelor’s pad. No it wasn’t filthy, but Patrick doesn’t believe in putting the pillows on bed, dumping the trash or dishwasher, getting his clothes all the way through the wash, rinsing dishes or the coffee pot, sweeping around the litter pan or sorting the mail.

I saw myself doing it. I knew it was coming and I had a choice, and I chose to scream. I let the tears out of the dam and calling my husband names under my breath. Coffee, I needed a Starbucks to soothe my flustered-ness. Safeway has a Starbucks, is on the way to pick up my dog and I can pick up some veggies for dinner too. Guess what? I arrived at the store moments after a fire alarm forced evacuation and closed the store indefinitely. Everything, everything seemed determined to test my self control.

Like the metaphorical devil on my shoulder, a niggling little voice said, “It’s OK. You have every right to let your emotions erupt. No one is here to see it, so it isn’t really a sin. You are all alone on the east coast again. The rest of your family is still huddled around baby Kylie, swooning over her smiles and making up funny new phrases like, ‘mashing pumpkins’ when she poops.”

Whistle While You Work. Praise the Lord that He is bully enough to shout over my own fleshy voice.

Abby, just because Patrick isn’t here to hear you and no one can watch you put on a colossal display of anti-obedience. Sing, sweetheart. Praise me. I deserve it.

When Brave and I got home, I propped up my Ipod and let Pandora sing classic Christmas music. Within the first 3.5 minute song, “I don’t want a lot for Christmas, there is just one thing I need… Baby all I want for Christmas is you!”

The cheery refrain made me think of my sister Rachelle. She is my sunshine – an un-dimmable light. We love to sing loudly together in stores, in the car and anywhere else. Whistle (or sing) while you work. Suddenly, I grabbed Brave’s front paws and were swirling around the smooth kitchen floors in my socks and his slippery paws.

When Brave started panting and I skidded into the sharp edge of the countertop we slowed. But the crustiness of anger and loneliness were gone. Tonight, in half the time I feared the daunting tasks would require, I had paid the bills, sorted the mail, made the most of an empty fridge, folded laundry, brushed the dog and written to you.

So, this post does have something to do with lies. In a world where we’re told that we deserve to do somethings for ourselves, to express ourselves bluntly and without regard, to pursue happiness at all costs – I did not – you do not – have the right to indulge our flesh. When your personality divides along the lines of spontaneous reactions versus choices, chose Christ. Choose the fruit of the Spirit: self control.

Because even in the quiet of my kitchen I am in a constant dialogue with my Creator. May I speak in reverence, respond in love and bring Him glory.

P.S. Please forgive any typos you notice here. I strive to write professionally. However, tonight I’m writing through bleary eyes. There should be warning on keyboards: DO NOT USE THIS DEVICE WHILE TIRED, STRESSED OR UNDER THE INFLUENCE. But I wanted to talk to you tonight and promise you that we’re back on track here. I’ve got some great posts for you this month and a new slant on the theme of Predatory Lies in the new year.

Merry Christmas!