life lines love lines

these days we seem to have one foot planted in the present and one aimed or already in the future, whatever it may look like. it's april, spring is here, eric is so close (and yet so far) to finishing grad school and we are on the job hunt. i fall asleep at night and during stolen 15 minute naptimes, dreaming of a little house and how i will arrange our furniture... i think about our backyard, and putting up a clothesline and whether we'll have a spot for my much longed-for hammock.

it's not that we're unhappy here... we have too much going on to not be in the here and now, with baby and church obligations, school and the like we have enough to do and pleasant people to do it with. we've been fairly blessed in the past two years with chances to grow as a couple and have i have enjoyed watching my husband turn into an excellent teacher and public speaker who cares about what he's sharing and is always taking what's challenging him and turning it into something good.

but we're so ready to settle.

since we married, i've felt like we've been on the job hunt in a sense. we have been blessed with employment no matter what, and a roof over our heads and food to eat, but it's all been with the knowledge that we're in a transitional period (again). it's taught us to look to eachother for a lot, and it's taught us to be content whatever the circumstance... but being in limbo does take it's toll on the heart.

especially when you're a new mom and you would just like to know what it's like to have a place of your own again... we are so, so blessed to be renting with mom and dad. we love the "communal" living and would not have it any other way... but even though eric and i grew up with lots of moving around and temporary living situations, we are both home-bodies that like having space to call our own. aren't we spoiled?

lately we've reminded each other of our missions kid/military brat tendencies to start detaching from our surroundings in anticipation of a move - even when we don't know where we're going next - so that it won't be as "difficult" to leave. don't get me wrong, we loved our respective growing up years and what it's given us as adults... but there are always signs that the itch for change is approaching.

i've always marveled at people who have grown up in the same town, the same county, and live their adult lives in a ten mile radius. we go out of state almost once a month at times. i've been thinking about this a lot lately because of our little bit. she is already becoming quite the road tripper with visiting family in tennessee at three weeks and great-grands and a brand new cousin in texas too. ezri has already been to five "ladies' days" at various churches in the area and heard her grandma speak three of those times.

i don't know how to do it any other way.

next year, we'll be visiting family overseas too. i can't wait. ez will probably not remember a lick of it, but she will know her entire life that when she was around a year and a half old she visited another country. i had a passport by the time i was a month old, eric doesn't know anything really about the town he was born it - it was just a stop in his dad's pilot training - but he remembers vividly so many towns and new faces and experiences... it's made us both people who are determined to relate to anyone, anywhere... to be open to new places and things, and to deeply appreciate family relationships and friendships that go beyond physical location.

some people are blessed to have relatives close by and tightly knit communities where everyone remembers your first steps and what you looked like at twelve. there are all sorts of stories and beautiful intimacies in that kind of life. lately, i have been thinking about the blessings i've had growing up with a tightly knit family and community - despite long distance.

i have memories of my nine year old self on our sunny veranda in mutare, giddily opening up care packages from my granma. real cheerios, a lego set for my brother, new episodes of star trek:tng on VHS and even a new package of underwear was exciting. these packages were not life lines to us in deepest darkest africa. africa was home. but they were love lines. the thin blue paper of air mail letters and the memories of last trips to granma's or auntie's filled our minds and we knew we were loved deeply.

we've talked a lot about where life will lead us, now that eric's the one who will be taking a job and well, we will/have to go anywhere. we've always been open to whatever that means, a lousiana bayou, a northern prairie or a high rise apartment in dubai... some people in my life recently have remarked on the importance of having grandparents near by while raising their children. i had the best of both worlds at different points in my childhood, with one set of grandparents on the mission field with us and the other set in the states but willing and able to visit us... it is a definite blessing to have family near but it not the end of the world to have them far away.

by growing up with long distance family, i learned early about goodbyes and hellos. i learned the value of real quality time with the people i love. i understood that there were people who knew me and loved me halfway around the world and that i was encircled in prayer no matter where i went. i knew that home was not a place, it was a family, and that family remained in my heart whether i was in johannesburg, south africa or abilene, texas.

ezri may have the blessing of grandparents two miles or two thousand miles away but she will always have the knowledge that she is deeply loved and will always have opportunities to listen and learn from the wisdom our parents have to give her... down the love lines.


another letter...

this was initially a guest post submission for a blog i follow... i initially thought it didn't make the cut, but i was wrong (thanks Gina!) ... look for it on The Feminist Breeder this Thursday, April 14.

For Donna Ezri:

Itʼs a warm spring day, the Kansas wind nearly knocked me over this morning while I was sliding you into the Moby wrap to go shopping. You are four months and five days old and your father and I are besotted with you.

Whenever you read this, I hope that you know that to your core. My prayer, with every breath as we sit and nurse in the glow of lamplight or as you lay on the floor rolling and squealing with delight and discovery, is that you will always know you are loved and worthy of it.

A few days ago I decided to write this letter for you. Itʼs gone through many drafts and stops and starts since then. There is so much, a universe I want to guide you through, so much I want to make sure you know. When I see the light and joy behind your eyes, and (already!) the anger and determination there too, I wonder how I am ever going to keep up with you and everything you need.

I have no idea what might transpire between the time that I look at you now and when you read this letter. I do know myself, and your dad, and what we are determined to give you... The things we want to teach you are really detailed and really nebulous... Love and understanding of the world around you, and ability to put yourself in the place of others and be willing to do whatever you can to help them... Passion for doing what is right, and determination to stand by your beliefs and be able to explain them without alienating others but opening their minds and hopefully opening your own.

When I think of the you that will read this letter, I see a bright and determined redheaded beauty, maybe 20 years old - maybe 16... and I think of myself at those ages. Your grandparents were born to be parents. They raised me to be interested in the world around me and to become an adult ready to interact with that world fully. I want the same for you. But I know that in the craziness of being a family, and raising you, and making sure you know how to be that person you are becoming, I may not
communicate everything I hope for you.

The world around us is full of beautiful things and difficult things, and all of it is going to shape you and change you and challenge you into being an amazing young woman. I canʼt wait to know you as that person. Never think that I donʼt want to listen to what youʼre thinking and feeling. I canʼt think of anything more important than knowing my family and what is in their hearts. You and your father are the blessing I never thought I would have.

You are at the threshold of life, and there is so much in front of you. If you donʼt realize or know it yet, I am behind you, I want you to excel in whatever you want to do and whatever it is you are passionate about. There may be times, I know there will be, when I will tell you truthfully what I think about things you do or say, but even if it is critical it does not change how much I care about you and the person you are. In fact, I tell you honestly what I think because I love you.

If I could tell you one thing that helped me most in the first ten years of my “adult life”, before you, it would be this:

The only person you can truly change is yourself.

I know, itʼs pretty straight forward, seemingly obvious... and, after living with me for 16 to 20 years, I am certain youʼve heard it a few times. There are some big reasons why this phrase is important to me.

The only person you really have complete “control” over is yourself, and it should be the only person you control... and that alone is a difficult job at times! Changing yourself is something you ought to do for yourself first, and most of the time only yourself. Donʼt let anyone tell you that you are unworthy or make you feel as if you cannot do what you know you can do.

There will be people in your life that you will fall for, that you will love or admire, that you will want to impress for reasons good and bad... they are the people you want to change for, and at times they are the people you think you can change. I have the privilege right now to help shape you and how you see the world, but I would never want to try and change your (already!) vibrant and sweet determined nature for the world. No matter how much you love another person and desperately desire them to change, the most you can ever do is love them and let them know you want to help. You can pray, you can be the best influence you can be, but they must make the choice to change if they need to.

And thatʼs the other thing that I have the blessing of seeing in you: the choices you make, good and bad, that will make you. You will see me make choices too, I canʼt guarantee that they will always be best, but I can promise with all my heart that the choices I make have been and will be with your contentment and happiness in mind.

Right now, the choices I see you make are whether to roll over or stay put, to reach for my coffee mug or to nurse or play... soon theyʼll get bigger and bigger. No matter how big or small, I am your mother and I will always be here cheering you on a praying the best into your life.

I love you.

Thank you for making me your mom.