Saturday, December 15, 2012

Empty Stockings

On December 9, 1988 I went to spend the night at a friends house.  We were going to go out to "coffee" (mostly cream with a hint of coffee for flavor).  My mom had asked where we were going for coffee and when I told her she said I could go to coffee somewhere else but not there.  She had a bad feeling.  I said I wouldn't go and was allowed to spend the night at my friend's house.  After I was dropped off, my friend and I proceeded to go to the coffee shop my mom hadn't wanted me to go to.  It didn't make sense why we could go to one and not the other.  It was just coffee.

Not long after we arrived at the coffee shop two other friends showed up and asked if we wanted to go to Chico.  My friend's mom had given permission and we thought it would be great fun.  We piled into the mustang convertible.  The driver told us to put our seat belts on.  I remember the request was strange because we'd never worn them before.  We put them on and headed down the highway.  I was crouched down a little in the back because I didn't want my hair to get to messed up.  We were laughing and everything was going just fine until we got to a curve.  Apparently the new driver got nervous and over corrected causing the car to spin, slide sideways and finally flip several times before landing on the other side of the freeway upside down.  I remember the spin and seeing the girl in the front with her hands over her eyes screaming and my friend next to me sitting straight up with her hands in the air screaming.  Everything was in slow motion.  I remember the car sliding sideways and rocks flying into my face and the front of the car lifting up into the air. 

I woke up upside down in the dark.  I looked to my right and the girl sitting next to me was in an awkward position.  I remembered from drivers ed first aid that if someone is in a strange position don't move them.  So I got myself out of the seat belt and turned away.  I felt my head and it was squishy, like squeezing a Barbie doll's head.  There were cassette tapes on the ground and I started tossing them out under the space between the ground and the car.  Then I heard voices and a white gloved hand appeared under the door.  I grabbed the hand!  In my mind it registered that it was a butler with white gloves and the edge of a tuxedo jacket, not the medical gloves of a paramedic.  He told me he had to let go of my hand because they had to use the jaws of life to free me.  I didn't want to let go!  I still didn't understand what was going on, what had happened, but I did understand that the gloved hand meant I was safe.  He had to pry my fingers off of his.  I heard the loud sound of something cutting through or breaking through the metal. 

I crawled out from the metal cave and laid down on the stretcher.  They put something around my neck and wouldn't let me cross my ankles.  And they wouldn't shut up!  They kept asking me questions about who was in the car, phone numbers, addresses.  I answered them, but I just wanted them to be quiet so I could go to sleep.  I felt so tired.

When I arrived at the hospital they cut my clothes off.  They were my favorite clothes!  The ER doctor was related to my drivers ed teacher and I remember telling him not to tell anyone he'd seen me that way.  They took x-rays and did tests.  I just missed needing stitches on my head.  They put me in a room for observation.  I felt sick.  No one believed me until I hurled over the side of the bed and onto the floor.  My mom came into the room crying.  I asked her if I was in trouble for disobeying.  That was all I could think of.  She was just glad I was alive.  The nurses helped me get up and go into the restroom.  No one had told me I had scratched my face on the asphalt.  From the top of the side of my head, missing a little hair, and down the side of my face to just before my mouth I had road burn. 

After letting me sleep for a few hours my mom came back to my room.  I asked how Trina, the girl next to me, was doing.  She didn't speak.  I said "she's dead, isn't she?"  She nodded and cried.  I cried too...but it was more a forced cry because I knew I should be crying.  I was in shock.  Trina's sister came and her mother. I learned that Trina's position had been awkward because the car had landed on her.  I told them I was so sorry.  I had been another daughter in the family.  I couldn't understand why the Lord had taken her and not me.  I was a Christian, she was in the process of asking some very deep questions about the faith.  It took me years to learn that we don't have to understand what He allows to be able to accept what He allows.

This accident took place just 2 days after Trina turned 15 and 3 days before I turned 16.  I was in the hospital for a week with a major concussion, severe whiplash and minor internal bleeding.  All I could keep down were grape popsicles.  So many people came to visit.  People I didn't even want to see came to visit.  I would fade in and out of consciousness and wake up to find people standing at the foot of my bed.  On my birthday a group of my friends came and had gathered around me so when I woke up I asked if I had died because they were crying.  My brother brought the video Willow and was allowed to stay in my room to watch with me. 

Trina's mom didn't do well after the accident.  Her life fell apart.  She couldn't accept help from anyone. I say couldn't rather than wouldn't because it seemed her sorrow was the only thing she had left that she could give to Trina on a daily basis. That Christmas there was an empty stocking at Trina's house.  Presents purchased were only painful reminders of what would never be. 

These thoughts were on my mind and heart when I learned about the elementary school shooting. I think of how tragic a car accident is, but how different it is from a shooting. A car accident is just that, an accident. It was caused by someones inexperience not by someones purposeful act of violence.  An intentional act of violence is pain added to pain.  I think of the poor parents of these children from Sandy Hook Elementary School and 20 empty stockings this Christmas. 

Thank God for the hope we have in Him and the comfort we find in Him.  He too has wept.  He too has lost children.  Let us pray together for these families and appreciate our children this Christmas and cry with thanksgiving and joy when we fill their stockings and, most importantly, share with them the light of Christ coming into this world, which is the purpose of this great and holy feast!

O Lord who watches over children in the present life and in the world to come because of their simplicity and innocence of mind, abundantly satisfying them with a place in Abraham's bosom, bringing them to live in radiantly shining places where the spirits of the righteous dwell: receive in peace the soul of Your little servant (name), for You Yourself have said, "Let the little children come to Me, for such is the Kingdom of Heaven." Amen.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Getting Grounded

I have made a new friend.  She is lovely and smart and truly a "kindred spirit".  She thought she was looking for someone to encourage her, little did she know how much the Lord was going to use her to encourage me in my mommy-ing. 
My new friend and I are both moms to first born daughters.  We are also each mom to our own set of boys adopted from the foster care system.  We both endeavor, often daily, to understand the unique needs of these boys and struggle to determine whether or not we have finally lost our minds or if it is just part of raising children with extra needs.  
She asks, "Is it normal for boys to use their nightlights to make sparks and scorch their outlets? Is it normal for boys to lie constantly? Is it normal for boys to see how much they can get away with when their parent literally walks out of the room for 5 minutes? Is it normal for boys to sneak into food, hide the wrappers behind the washing machine, and do this every single morning before you wake up (and it’s still dark out) even when you’ve fed them man size, hearty portions all day long? Is it normal for boys to be unable to look you in the eyes even when they know they are not in trouble? Is it normal to go over something that is inappropriate or dangerous a dozen times or more and boys are just going to keep doing it regardless what you say or what consequence you give? Are these all seriously normal boy behaviors and I missed the memo somewhere?"
My response, "We are in the trenches in a battle for their souls as well as our own. This is what I was thinking about when I named my blog The Ascetic Lives of Mothers. We are constantly being forced to die to ourselves, battling against unseen forces (whether spiritual or physiological). There are the constant behavior grenades going off and attitude snipers that catch us unawares. We are blindsided by the attachment disorder tanks and surprised by the auditory/sensory processing special forces. And yet we stand. By the grace of God we stand. And though we might be dragging them through the mud and forcefully setting their feet upon the ground, they stand too."

Our boys are different, and they DO have issues some will never experience, but I think every mother struggles, at one time or another, to understand her children.  I think we all struggle throughout our mothering journey to understand ourselves as mothers, working out our salvation, laboring for our children and with our children to help them to be able to stand firmly as they learn to walk in this world.  I think most of us doubt ourselves and look back at our parenting journey with a list of what ifs.  But,GLORY BE TO GOD, our Lord reminds us that all is not lost and our labor is not in vain. 
2 Cor. 4:8-10 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

Dearest Lord Jesus, show me how to be a loving mother to my children. You know the desire of my heart is to mother my children in a way that will draw them to You. Forgive my shortcomings and help me not to sink into despair, but to rise up in faith with the knowledge that Your holy power is strong enough to sustain me and guide me to be the mother my children need. Help me to be slow to speak, quick to listen and quick to forgive my children of their faults. Grant me Your vision for my children that I may know how to train, encourage and pray for them. For you are holy now and unto ages of ages. Amen.