“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It's not.”
-Dr. Suess, The Lorax

Monday, April 23, 2012

Eight More Weeks

In just eight weeks, my family and I will depart for our long-term stay in Haiti.  To clarify what “long-term” means to us – we don’t really know; it’s just going to be more than a couple of months.  We plan on staying as long as the Lord asks us to, so it’s pretty open-ended.   I truly have no idea how long we’ll be there.  I can’t even try to figure it out. 
As the weeks are flying by, our departure date quickly approaches.  I am thinking more and more about upcoming good-byes.  It fills me with sadness and dread.
My husband and I have never lived farther than ten miles or so from where we grew up.  In fact, the farthest we’ve ever strayed from our current zip code is when we were newlyweds and moved just past the county line.  My mom thought we were ridiculously out in the boondocks then.
And now, we’re about to leave the country, moving to an impoverished island in the Caribbean.  Good grief, so much for taking baby steps.
I have been thinking about those last few days we’ll be here in Kentucky, saying good-bye to those precious friends and family members we love.  To be honest, I dread it.  I will go ahead and pack away my mascara, because I’ll have hideous raccoon eyes if I try to wear any.  Perhaps I will surprise myself and handle it all with dignified poise, but I fully expect to have several bouts of the ugly crying spells.  Most likely I will be a snotty, red-nosed, puffy-eyed, pathetic lump of emotional wreckage.  Oh, and I’ll need to be strong for my husband and kids, so those horrid melt-downs will probably happen in the bathroom or in my car.  (If you spot me driving down the road, just give me plenty of swerving room – I’ll be steering with my knee while I blow my nose once again.)   I will emerge from the bathroom looking like some monster from a poorly funded horror film.  If you ask me if I’m ok, I’ll put on a fake smile and say, “Sure!”  Don’t question me beyond that, unless you are prepared for a snotfest.
The thing that gets to me the most right now is watching the young kids in our family, both mine and Brennon’s.  My nieces are so tiny and sweet.  Kaylee has me wrapped around her little finger.  I adore the age she’s at; being three is such a fun mixture of toddler and big-girlness.  I love to listen to her talk as she plays and lets her imagination go wild.  I just melt.  And Aubrey is just an infant.  With each week she changes so much.  I can’t imagine how much she’ll grow and change while I’m gone.  On Brennon’s side of the family, little man Stephen immediately comes to mind.  Why, in just a few months’ time, he’s liable to be driving a four-wheeler or climbing trees without any help.  When we come home, I hope he remembers that I’m his dinosaur-growling buddy.  I sure don’t want to just be some weirdo lady that shows up one day making strange growling sounds in an effort to be funny. 
Kaylee giving her approval on the new sister.

Me and Aubrey

Stephen is halfway grown and he's not even 2 years old yet!

I think about the bigger kids, too.  MaKayla will be a senior in the fall.  She’ll soon be an adult and off into the world herself.  Bailey is barely a kid anymore; he’s already proving to be a young man with his mannerisms and thoughtfulness.  I even got a hug out of that cool kid yesterday!  And then I think about that baby in Sara’s womb.  That little peanut of a baby girl will arrive while we’re gone, and that’s going to be an event I won’t want to miss….but I will.  I’m sure the doctor and nurses can handle it without me, but a birth is such an incredible celebration to be a part of.
My mom is going to have a really tough time letting me go.  My dad will too, but being a man who tends to keep his thoughts to himself, he won’t tell me how hard the goodbye hurts him.   But I’ll know.  And that’s the thing that brings tears to my eyes quickest right now – realizing that this sacrifice is not just ours, but it’s a sacrifice that our family is having to make as well, and they have no say so in the issue.   They have to trust us when we tell them that God has asked us to make this journey.  They have to accept that our faith is in Jesus; He is our Lord and we willingly go and do whatever we believe He is asking of us.  I’m sure that’s a tough thing for them to swallow at times.
My most dear friend has decided not to say goodbye.  She is determined to come to visit us in Haiti a few weeks after we arrive and will help me get our house all homey.  Her assignment will be to bring important stuff with her that we forgot to pack.  (Priceless!)  This is the only way Jill will be able to say goodbye and stay sane.  As long as she knows where I live, she can relax and be assured that anytime she wants to drop by for coffee, she can find me.  We’ll likely continue to text funny updates and pretend that we are only five minutes apart from each other.   
So, yeah….those are some of the things running through my head that get my emotions all tuned up.  And it’s still eight weeks away.  Oh goodness, I’m liable to be an absolute wreck by the time June rolls around!        Parents, brothers & sister (this is going to be so hard for Stacy to let her big brother go!), sister-in-laws & brother-in-law, aunts, uncles, tons of cousins, friends (we have such dear friends – can we just bottle up our shared laughter and take it with us?), and long-time neighbors.   I want them all to know that it hurts our hearts to know we will be absent from them, and we also know that we are causing their hearts to ache as well.  We pray for our Father to give their hearts comfort and assurance as we leave. 
But let there be no misunderstanding:  I am ready to go.  The anticipation inside me is indescribable.  In eight weeks, I will be right where I’m supposed to be…..Lord willing. 
I am ready to go.  The leaving will just be the really hard part. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Death, Love, and Really Living

Sitting bedside next to a loved one, knowing each time you see him take a breath that it might be his last, one begins to see a bigger picture.  The realization sinks in that the time has arrived that you knew was inevitable, but didn’t really take seriously – that this loved one will soon be gone.  
Good intentions and time wasted come to mind. 
When death takes center stage in our circus act called “life,” the opportunity presents itself to gain some perspective.  Perhaps even a bit of wisdom may develop. 
As I drove home tonight from the hospital, after visiting my husband’s grandfather on his deathbed, these were the thoughts and revelations I had:
We rarely express our love enough. 
We spend so little time with many of those whom we love.
We take so much for granted. 
There is no turning back the clock; the past is the past.  The future, however, is wide open.  It is a blank canvas, and we hold a palate of colors and the tools to create something beautiful….if we so choose.
We are selfish creatures, and we live so much of our lives for ourselves.  How much richer our lives would be if we changed that, even if just a little. 
And how much it must hurt my Lord, my Savior, my Jesus…..because this all applies to my relationship I have with Him, as well.
Forgive me, Father.  And help me to love like You do. 
Faithful, abundant, and true.