Spring is coming

So, February is birthday month around here. Actually my SIL whose birthday is on or around Thanksgiving starts of what I have dubbed “Birthday season” (or perhaps more accurately: the most wonderful time of year where all of our muffin tops expand, all of our blood pressures rise and all of our bank accounts are empty). Between the end of November and the end of February we celebrate 8 birthdays in our family (with 4 of them being in our nuclear family) as well as Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. February is also the time of month where I get super emotional and nostalgic. I look at old pictures. I text Peter to warn him that my annual breakdown is scheduled for tonight at 8:02. I give my kids too much sugar and cuddle with them in their beds when they are supposed to be sleeping because I just can’t say no. I consider hiding them in closets and I Google the punishment for truancy.  Or, even better than closets are those little houses that baby cows live in so they won’t grow and will remain nice and tender. Just how I like my meat, and my kids, tender. So yeah. That is my February now, 5th annual actually. (And apparently this year, March as well.) You know, all the normal stuff. But really though, they should make those cow houses for kids. I am working on a prototype. .When my kids stop having plump, soft cheeks and my last kid’s last leg roll vanishes, my sanity might vanish along with it. Peter, you have been warned.

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I have already documented Hayleigh’s birthday on the blog. Braxton’s is coming. I am a little behind. It also means these photos in this post are out of chronological order. A no-no for me. I actually sat down intending this to be a post about B’s 3rd birthday but it morphed into something else. So instead of terrorize future Braxton with my emotional and clingy ramblings, I decided to let this post go where it will. I prefer to terrorize my kids by forcing my love and affection on them in person, thank you, not as much in my writing…maybe…kinda. So, B’s birthday summary post is coming some time before he turns 4 (oh gosh, 4! ah! make it stop!). And this post is, well, whatever this post turns out to be.
The other day it was a balmy 46 degrees. A regular heat wave. We actually went outside for a walk that lasted longer than around the block (or if I am being honest around the mini-van as I scream, shiver and buckle wiggly bodies into their harnesses). We wore light jackets. Light jackets. You know winter coat 2.0.. The things we get to wear for about 3 weeks out of the year in Fall and Spring (otherwise known as pre and post winter, the book end seasons.) In Rochester the appropriate weather for a light jacket is anything about 40 degrees and anything below 48 degrees. Once it reaches 49 people wear shorts and t shirts. And once it reaches 49 degrees for more than 3 days in row people open their pools. And once it reaches 49 degrees for more than a week in a row people complain about the heat. Rochestarians. Anyway, it was 46 degrees, light coat weather, basically a tropical island. We look a nice, long walk. The kids played outside without being so bundled up in “snow gear” that we had roll them where they wanted to go. Despite the fact that there was still somewhere between 3-6 inches of snow on the ground it felt downright tropical. I mean Hayleigh did see a few patches of grass which prompted her to nearly hyperventilate with excitement as she shouted that it was “almost green!” As we walked we smelled hotdogs and hamburgers on the grill. We saw people sitting out in lawn chairs (in the almost green spots). I kid not.
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It got me thinking about perspective. I mean when 46 degrees feels like such a heat wave that the neighbors are grilling in t-shirts and you take your 15 month old out for an hour long walk in just a hoodie, perspective is clearly in play. To one of those people from California (not sure I have ever actually met one of those people) 46 degrees is a Tundra. Perspective.
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Because I like to over-think everything, I decided to stretch this line of thinking just a tad further. I decided to apply it to my present situation. I can chose to bemoan the fact that my kids are growing up, and try as I might I can’t stop it. (Just wait for the baby cow house prototype though. Its a comin’.) Or I can revel in the moments that I have. Savor them. Store them away in my heart. Write them down. Snap some pictures. But mostly just let them absorb into my being and with a sigh know they are fleeting, but the joy they bring me is not.

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I can chose to dwell on the heartache our family is going through. I can chose to look at my dad and see what is already gone. Or I can chose to see all that he still has, all that  we still have by having him here. I can see the amazing opportunity we have to say good-bye with no regrets. And I can stop being paralyzed and hiding away from the storm of life. I can actually live these days with no regrets.

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I tend to be a hider. When it comes to fight or flight, I fall very comfortably in the flight category. I tend to flee even before the danger comes. I don’t run away as much as I burrow. I hide. I hide behind being busy. Behind shallow preoccupations. Behind my smile. And when I just don’t have it in me to do that anymore I just hide behind closed doors and under my covers. I am not proud of it. I guess I just don’t know how to grieve. I guess I just don’t know how to be okay when things are not okay. It is something God and I are working on together. But because I am a big old fleeing retreating burrower it is taking longer than it probably should. God has to keep chasing me down, pulling away whatever I am hiding behind and chiseling away at me. It often leaves me raw. Which is another reason I opt for flight instead of fight. I am weak when I am weak. Profound I know. I am learning to be strong when I am weak, in His strength of coarse. But it is a process. It takes a while. This whole perspective thing can very easily get all out of wack for me. I can very easily hid under the covers instead of calling my dad on the phone. It is easier to wrap my wounds up and hide them, rather than wrapping my arms around my dad and crying together, or just talking.

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But I, we, have been given this gracious gift from God. We have been given the opportunity to live the rest of my dad’s life with no regrets. Nothing needs to be left unsaid. Nothing needs to be left undone. Instead of being paralyzed by that, instead of fleeing from that and burrowing inside my self-made cocoon, I choose to act. I choose to take a step. I choose to retreat to the arms of my Heavenly Father and wrap His layers of love around me. I choose to mourn and grieve but not in such a way that it steals my joy and steals our days, just as winter and cabin fever do. I am going to step outside. I choose to view the snow and slush of life as necessary evil on the pathway to spring. Hey, there is even some good in snow, some charm to be found there. And believe me I will find the charm, find the fun, find the joy amidst this seemingly never-ending winter. Because I know the hope that “does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:5).  I know that “weeping may endure for a night, but the joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:5b) I know. The depths of my soul clings to this truth. Spring is coming. And I might be wrong, but I like to think it will seem even more beautiful because of the winter.

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“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.  Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:6-11

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