Friday, November 30, 2012

A Piece Of My Heart

21 years ago today I was making Hamburger Helper in the obnoxiously-decorated-in-bright-primary-colors kitchen (what was I thinking?!) of our our shotgun style slate blue home in Pensacola, Florida.  Craig had run to Blockbuster Video to get a movie for the night.  I was about one week overdue with our first child.  

We never got to eat the Cheeseburger Macaroni flavored dinner or watch the movie.  

In the wee hours of December 1st, 1991....around 2am....our first son was born.  
Zachary Patrick came into our lives after a long drug free labor, several hours of pushing and then ultimately a c-section.  That whole night is a blur for me....up until they said "It's a boy!" and I heard him cry.  Then Craig and I cried too.  There was a rush of emotion that I can never adequately describe in the written or spoken word.  It was overwhelming, big, amazing, scary, palpable, breathtaking, paralyzing, joyful, humbling, frightening, incredible.....  It was just indescribable.  

What I also can't describe is the love we felt for this little 7lb 10oz human being with sweet blue eyes.  It was a feeling we had never experienced before and would only happen 3 more times in our lives. 

I don't remember who said this, 
but there really are places in the heart you don't even know exist 
until you love a child.
-Anne Lamott 

Zack turns 21 tomorrow.  Sigh.  It is so hard to believe!  Sometimes those 21 years seemed to have crept by at a snail's pace (like when he was a colicky baby or a grumpy 13 year old!) and yet, looking back it feels like just yesterday I held him in my arms for the first time.  
The huge-ness of the love...........oh my.  

Zack was a sweet baby who dealt with 14 ear infections in the first year of his life.  There were many sleepless nights spent at ERs.  He has ear tubes on this 1st birthday....what a great gift!  

He learned as a young baby to have strength and tolerance and courage.

Zack was a smart toddler who talked fluently and adult like at a very young age.  He knew how to give directions in a car to someone, point out and name all 50 states and read sight words by age 4.  

He learned as a little dude to have a thirst for knowledge and learning.

Zack was given his first guitar at age13.  It was his Grandma's guitar that she had played for many, many years.  He was excited about the guitar but grumbled at the thought of lessons and practiced the assigned lessons with attitude.  But, in the quiet of his room or the basement he played songs he liked, searched the internet for guitar tabs and picked the strings....constantly.... as he had discovered a passion.  

He learned as a young teen that finding a passion in life can be something to carry you through good and bad times.....and can end up being something you share with the world.

Today Zack is a man.  He is someone we love more than words can express.  

He is still someone we would step in front of a truck for.  He is still someone we would allow to fail even if it hurts our souls to see because we know it is what will make him a better person.  He is still that little boy who sang "The Wheels on the Bus" a zillion times in the car with us.  He is still that guy who drove us crazy with the teenage caveman grunt answers to every question.  

But, as a man, he is much more.

He is someone we admire.  He is a guy who is strong in his faith.  He is an honorable dude.  He is a thoughtful human being.  He is one of our 4 biggest blessings in this life.  

Making the decision to have a child is momentous.  
It is to decide, forever, to have your heart go walking around outside your body.
-Elizabeth Stone

Yep.  Our children are those places in our heart that we didn't know existed before, outside of our bodies.....4 little chunks of our hearts strolling around life.  

One piece of our heart is......
walking around downtown Madison on campus gaining new knowledge every day, singing and playing guitar for mission teams in West Virginia, being a loyal, fun friend to many, and loving others deeply and genuinely like God intended him to.  

May you feel some kind of HUGE love that is indescribable in your life.
May you be grateful for the passions, thirst for learning and 
joy that others can bring.
May you recognize that the pieces of your heart that may be walking around 
are another piece of the big puzzle called LOVE.  

Happy Birthday Zachary Patrick Stevens.
You are loved & blessed.
Always and All Ways.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Common Ground

On the night before the election all is not quiet, the phones are ringing and the tv ads are still annoying.....

Yes, it is the day before the election.  Tomorrow is very important for our country.
But what is more important is what happens on the days after Tuesday.

I normally do not get political in public, and I will do my best to remain neutral here.  But sometimes things are important....and inspiring.  So I want to share those with you.

Our country has been, for the last 12 years or so, experiencing some tough times.  9/11, Hurricane Katrina, war in Iraq and Afghanistan, stock market crash, Wall Street fiasco and near collapse of a global banking system, a real estate roller coaster, an election in 2000 that divided people and much more.

It seems that more and more, each election, we become a divided nation.  The "sides" are settling further to the right and to the left.  This leaves a moderate, independent, Christian woman like me left smack dab in the middle...and feeling a bit alone.  I have friends & family, all who I love and respect, who are passionate about the Republican platform and candidates... and some who are equally as passionate about the Democratic platform and candidates.  Where it all goes wrong is when I see these people engaging in conversations, on social media sites and at the grocery store, that are not full of honor, care and common respect.

It feels like we lost sight of what makes our country great.
It feels like our country is like this flag looks...cracked, separate and not cared for.
What has happened to our love and respect of our country and what made us what we are....different people with different religious and political views all coming together?

What has happened to our common ground?

We should be able to be a country that doesn't look like 2 toddlers fighting over a toy.  This country needs a mom!!  We need someone who loves both sides passionately, for who they are as individuals, but treats them equally.  We need someone who can wade through the mess of issues and arguments and come up with a compromise.  We need someone who can set aside selfish ideas, past hurts and bitterness and make the best of a situation because they care about both "kids".

How does this happen?





But interestingly, I saw a glimpse of what this could look like today.  I went to downtown Madison today to see the President of the United States.  I have been to many of these rallies over the years.... my first few were Mondale/Ferarro and then a Reagan one....many others throughout the years for both parties.   I love the idea of a country being in awe of, and sitting in respect of, its leaders.
I respect the Office of the President, no matter who is in it.

So back to this morning....
I went downtown in the wee hours with my sister and mom.  As a bonus, we found out my dad was getting to town early for a meeting and going to the rally as well.  What a great coincidence!!  So he joined us on the square.  We stood there, in the beautiful sunny fall morning for hours.  We talked, caught up with each other, laughed, listened to the speeches, chatted with people around us, tapped our feet to the music of Bruce Springsteen and listened to our President together.  We grabbed a quick cup of coffee on our way out of downtown and dad dropped us off at our cars.  It was a great morning!

What does this have to do with politics and the state of our country?  Well...I will tell ya. :)

My parents divorced 17 years ago.  I was 28, was married and had 2 children of my own at the time.  It was a shock to me and hurt deeply when it happened.  I know I am not the only child of divorce, but it is hard for every  child-no matter what age they are-when it happens.  It was a tough, rocky divorce and be quite honest...divided our family for many years.

I love both of my parents.  I adore them.  They are not perfect, but either am I.... or anyone.
They both are as amazing as they are human.  This divorce was so incredibly difficult for both of them in different ways.  They have come a long way in these 17 years and worked hard to come to the place they are now.  They both have very full, happy lives now and I am happy for them!!

But mornings like today have not happened very much.  As the years have gone on it has gotten a bit better, but nothing like today.  Today, my parents chose to set aside any hurts, disagreements and anger.  They came to a place where their love of their children (and President Obama) far outweighed any awkward feelings that would make them hesitate to spend time together.  They found common ground.
I was so very proud of them today.
I love my parents.

If only the political parties, their supporters and the country would do the same.
If only we could put aside our junk.
If only we could prioritize the country's well being before our own.
If only we could set aside the anger and push past the awkward
     to come to a place of mutual respect.
If only we could all behave in ways that we can be proud of.
If only.......

So, tomorrow......
as you go to vote,
as you watch the tv reports,
as you talk with others about results,
as you go about your day and the days to come....think of these things....

May you come to a place where your love of our country 
far outweighs your disagreement with someone.
May you respect the new President, whoever it is.
May you work toward behaving more like honoring adults than fighting toddlers.
May you be grateful to live in a country where you are 
privileged enough to "have a say".
May you be proud of yourselves and those around you.
May we ALL find common ground.