Monday, May 22, 2006

A Mother's Heart

Being a mom is incredible and beautiful and amazing and is more important to me than any other position I might ever hold in life. Being a mom is also awful and painful and sad and.....hard! Having a Mother's heart is the hardest part of the job.

When my son was five I went one Sunday morning to pick him up from his Sunday School class and the teacher said, "Your son was very bad today." The woman to whom I had entrusted my son's physical and spiritual care for the morning then turned to my son and said, "Tell your mommy how bad you were today". My Mommy instinct was to pounce on that pious woman and rip her to shreds. My Mommy's heart was flooded with emotion. I wanted to understand what had happened to inspire the teacher to make such a bold accusation. I wanted to scold my son and help him to see that whatever he had done wrong was a bad choice and he was capable of making better choices. I wanted to look around the room to see who might be listening to this conversation for fear that my reputation as a mother and woman was being seriously attacked. But mostly, I wanted to scoop my child up into my arms and love him and assure him that even when he acted badly my love would not go away.

My heart has been ripped, torn, and broken in two many times in my 44 years, but nothing hurts my heart so deeply and calls me into action so fully as the hurt, sadness, brokenness, and suffering that is experienced by my kids.

God made moms and dads completely differently - thank goodness. Dads tend to be more black and white about things and it's pretty easy for them to distance themselves from the bad choices their children make. I heard a psychologist once say that kids learn early on that Mom's love was unconditional, but Dad's love was clearly conditional. I don't believe a good dad's love is truly conditional, but their responses to their kids is clearly conditional upon behavior. A friend of ours calls it "good cop/bad cop" and it is the way God made us.

There have been times in the lives of my kids when I - Mom - was the only one who still believed in them, still found reasons to trust them, and still had a sliver of hope that the outcome of whatever crisis they were in would be positive. If it hadn't been for the crushing ache in my chest for my kids I would never have cried out in anguish to God. If it wasn't for the deep heart pain that calls me into action, there might not be one single person in the world praying for my kids.
As awful as it is, God calls us moms to hurt for our kids so that we will never stop praying for them.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Morning Exercise.....a poem

By Elizabeth Stoeckel

Run, ride, peddle, step.
Going, going
getting nowhere fast.

The heart struggles to meet the demands
of the determined and sometimes rebellious body.

I smile, and then laugh
at the many pairs of flailing limbs
as they are reflected in the mirrored walls.

We move independently together.
Going, going
getting nowhere fast.

May, 2006

Saturday, May 20, 2006

May Sweeps

It's May. For television May and November are big "sweeps" months - the time of year when TV shows pull out the big story-line guns and hope to attract the highest number of viewers. Advertisers look at the sweeps numbers to determine which shows will get the most exposure to their clients' products. Of course the shows that get the most viewers will get the most money for each advertising minute.

When I was young I loved to watch "All My Children" with my mom. I still watch the occasional soap opera (or "story" as my son calls them), and the best story lines are tangled and untangled in the months of May and November. I still remember gathering at my friend Louie's apartment in November of 1981 to watch "General Hospital's" Luke and Laura FINALLY get married!! I remember each and every husband of Erica Cane (from "All My Children" and played by Susan Lucci).

The thing that kept me hooked on soaps was not the hot guys, the steamy love stories, the beautiful clothes, or the exotic location shots, but rather it was the knowledge that eventually good would win, and evil would be exposed. There is always a character in the soaps who is manipulating things to make themselves look angelic, and the good people look really bad. Eventually, however, the truth is always seen, the manipulator loses the girl or guy, and true love always wins out. Primetime TV has had their share of schemers as well, and my favorite new schemer is Parker Posie's character on Boston Legal....but I digress.

Several years ago a woman who is all smiles and charm to the outside world so convincingly wove a tapestry of half-truths and lies about me that I lost my job - a job she now has. A couple of years later I understudied a beautiful woman in a theatrical production. She demeaned me verbally and emotionally and night after night I left those rehearsals in tears. She lied about her behavior when confronted and her charm eventually won the heart of my dearest friend and I lost him to her. if life was truly a stage then May and November would be sweeps months! This would be the time of year when all the story pieces come together, lies would be revealed and the good girl would get those she loves back. Good people would be forgiven for bad behavior and bad people would be found out. However, this is real life and people don't forgive as easily as they do in the Soap Operas, the girl doesn't always get the guy, and there are no cute ribbons with which to wrap life's package in that proverbial neat little bow. I guess that's what makes TV "fantasy".

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

By Elizabeth Stoeckel

They are vessels
navigating silently through the sometimes murky and rough,
often calm and still waters of life.
They are strangers.
Though most seem strong and withstanding
I wonder about weaknesses that have been repaired,
and holes that have been patched.
Many are plain and simple,
but they hold secrets of outlandish exploits
and surprising adventures.
A few are gaudy and bold,
but their contents are unnecessary or destructive.
Some drag cargo they long ago meant to purge,
while others carry riches unseen by the passing outsider.
They are vessels transporting stories and memories,
hopes, desires, and dreams for the journey.
Though we share the waterways from one port to the next,
we are strangers.
We unintentionally touch,
and we are strangers still.

September, 2005

The Apple Tree

18 months ago I planted a brand new apple tree- a sapling. For me that little tree represented hope for a better future, for as you know my son was in jail and my daughter was 750 miles away in a drug and behavioral treatment program.

Last Spring I was thrilled to see eight tiny Fuji apples begin to form. As the apples grew larger those little tiny branches began to bend and sag under the weight of the fruit. I went out each and every morning to monitor that little tree and one morning I saw that one of the branches had split, but was not yet completely broken. I wrapped that little branch's wound and then I used garden tape to wrap all the tiny branches together in such a way that they were clinging to one another and then they as a group were clinging to the trunk (which was still small, but sturdy!).

Do you know that all eight of those tiny apples grew into huge, delicious apples. I thought of the church and how we all need to support one another in order to produce the best possible fruit. If we - the body - are not there to support all the other branches then the fruit bearing branches will eventually break under the weight of that fruit. The same can be said of our work place, our neighborhood, our family, and our circle of friends. As the branches get stronger they have the responsibility of supporting the new, smaller branches.

I am so excited to report that this year that little tree has about 30 apples growing on it's still frail branches. The branch that had suffered a split last year has healed. Because the tree is still young, all the branches will once again have to cling to one another so all 30 apples will grow to maturity as I expect to share and eat them all! :):)