hiddenblessing

Finding one small blessing each day.

Blessings abound March 24, 2014

Filed under: Family — hiddenblessing @ 11:06 pm
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Today’s blessing is too good to not share. 

In early January, my fifty-something uncle, who is a runner, went out for his usual hour-long run.  This man is a RUNNER.  I mean a serious runner – one of those guys who gets stir-crazy if he doesn’t get a chance to run.  It’s his stress relief, his meditation.. just simply, it’s his way of life.  He runs like I write – he does it because something deep inside his soul needs it.

On that particular night, however, a horrible accident occurred.  He was waiting for a truck to pass a busy road in his metropolitan suburb, and the truck put its signal to turn.  It began the turn and my uncle began to cross.  What he never saw coming was the car that was directly behind the truck, and it hit him… full-on, at an estimated 40ish miles per hour.

The details don’t really matter so much as what happened to him.  He suffered serious, horrific injuries to his entire body.  Of the many, many injuries, he had two broken legs and a traumatic brain injury.  On that devastating night, I and a few family members drove the eight hour drive through the night to get to his bedside.  There’s no way to prepare oneself for that kind of accident happening to a loved one.  No way to prep your mind for what you might find when you arrive.  No way to “look on the bright side”, as I always do, except to continue to tell yourself “he’s alive, he’s alive, he’s alive.”  

Today – not quite twelve weeks later – I got some beautiful news.  Not only is he ALIVE, but today he was given clearance to bear weight, 100%, on both legs.  Less than ninety days ago, we didn’t even know if he would keep both legs… and today he is able to walk.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.  Thank you doctors, thank you nurses, thank you modern medical care.  Thank you for letting me live in a country with the best of the best, thank you for the hundreds of people praying for him, and very most of all, thank you, God.

We are so, so blessed.  

 

Trust. Faith. And handing it over. November 20, 2012

Filed under: Inspiration,Kindness,Uncategorized — hiddenblessing @ 11:25 am
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Lots and lots of thoughts today.  But mostly, my thought today is … sometimes, I think you just have to let go and let God take over.  I don’t have anything particularly bad or stressful going on in my world.  Everything is fine.  The kids are fine, the husband is fine, we’re healthy, we’re safe and we’re dry.  There’s not enough money, but there never is – this is nothing new.  The dishwasher is failing and the furnace is questionable, but again… we’re fine.  Compared to some of my family and friends, I have NOTHING to complain about.  But all this being said, I have been having the hardest time with feeling this sense of worry and anxiety.

 

I’ve tried to pinpoint it.  It started the morning of the election – and before anyone gets all huffy about THAT – I am politically-challenged and can’t speak intelligently about politics. At all.  So I really don’t think it’s that.  We’ve got the holidays right around the corner, and of course that’s stressful but I love Christmas like I love sunshine – it is so wonderful and special and beautiful that it really can’t be that. 

 

Then there is the whole end-of-the-world-Mayan-calendar thing.  I have joked, over the last three or four years, that I would need to be on meds come December 2012 because it just FREAKED me out so much.  And as we crossed over into the New Year 2012, it did flit across my mind (just being honest here.  It’s my blog.  If I’m not at least honest with myself, this is a complete waste of my time! LOL.)  And it has crossed my mind here and there across this year.  But is that REALLY what is going on with me?  I hope not.  I will so laugh at myself if I wake up on January 1, 2013 and feel miraculously better. 

 

Sometimes I just think that the world is such a frightening place.  There is so much violence and greed and selfishness abounding.  I think perhaps I’ve been reading the news a little too much again.  I’ve got to stop doing that.  It’s like giving a hypochondriac free reign to read WebMD all day long.  It’s just a recipe for failure.  I’m not saying my ostrich-angle is a good one to have.  If we all stuck our heads in the sand no one would help anyone else, ever.  But I am saying that sometimes I think I tend to absorb the stresses and struggles of those around me, or those that I hear about.  Which is ridiculous.  Those aren’t even my problems to own.  It’s like I’m my own psychic vampire. J  Really, I need to be stronger than that.   

 

But even more importantly,  I have to have faith that the good that is in the world, that all the light and love and joy that exists WILL win in the end. 

 

I was talking to my mom about her impending potential job loss. And I said – well, I think your choices are this:  you could stress about it, worry day and night, lose sleep and develop an ulcer and lose your job.  Or you could trust that you can’t change what may or may not happen, sleep well, enjoy what you have right now and STILL LOSE YOUR JOB ANYWAY.  In my opinion, Option B is just such a better way to go. 

 

So last night, as I lay in bed thinking about this nameless worry I have – as my darling B came and climbed into bed asking to sleep with me – as I snuggled him close and thought about how his hair smells like cupcakes and THANK GOD that I still have these days – that my boy still WANTS to be cuddled and wants to sleep curled up next to me – I thought I just have to give it to God

                I will trust that He has a plan in place.  I will trust that in the end, all will be ok.  I will trust that I am just one person, and I can’t fix all the troubles in the world – that’s not my job, it’s His.  I will just take care of what’s mine, this cupcake-smelling boy and this beautiful baby and this challenging teenager and this man who loves me.   I will try to spread a little bit of love, a little bit of good and as much light as possible to those around me.  But if it happens, and it sometimes will because that’s just the way life is, that I don’t know the right direction to take or I get overwhelmed and scared at the enormity of the craziness in the world, I will take a deep breath.  And I will just Hand. It. Over.  I will trust.  I will have faith.

 

So today, that’s what I’ve done.  And I woke up so much lighter and calmer than I was when I went to sleep.  I looked at B’s sweet toes as I woke him up, where he was sleeping horizontally in my bed, and I took a moment to just say thank you.  Thank you for the sunshine pouring in my window, thank you for this beautiful child asleep in my bed, and thank you for simply another day.

 

 

I will trust.  I will have faith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our version of the Yaya Sisterhood September 23, 2012

Filed under: Family — hiddenblessing @ 8:25 am
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Fairies“>

Fairies by Flo’s shots 4 me (http://www.flickr.com/photos/florencia123/)

* * * *

I am a Yaya.  A princess Yaya, that is.  And oh, how I love this little tiny bit of (pretend, but very real in my heart) royalty.

Did you ever see that movie Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood?  Here is a very brief summary:  there is a group of girls growing up in the 50’s who are best friends.  They have a secret club, as most little girls do at some point, and they name themselves the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. They sneak out late at night in their jammies, have a little bonfire, wear silly crowns and swear their loyalty to each other forever and ever.  Their friendship lasts into adulthood, and when of the Ya-Ya’s has relationship difficulties with her daughter, the remaining friends kidnap the adult daughter.  They sneak her away to the family cabin to try to get her to come to reason with her mom’s history and why she is the way she is.

That’s a terrible rendition, but it’s the core of the movie.  But here’s where it turns really fun… during the summer of 2002 after the movie came out, on some random weekend my extended family and I all sat on my grandmother’s patio talking.  Somehow the movie came up and someone decided it would be really fun if we had a Yaya weekend.  Somewhere where all the girls could get away – no husbands, no kids, and just be us for a weekend.  We would make fun drinks, get pedicures, swim, and basically just have a fun weekend together celebrating us. 

And so it was born.  On the weekend after Labor Day 2002, my aunt, mother, sister, grandmother and I gathered at my grandmother’s house.  We giggled and laughed and did no cooking.  We drank copious amounts of alcohol, swam at my great uncle’s home (he wasn’t allowed to join us except for one cocktail since we were, after all, using his pool), and waited for Saturday night.  And when Saturday night arrived, my grandmother pulled out beautiful crowns she had made for each of us.  We pulled chairs into a circle under the crabapple tree in the backyard, and we lit a bonfire.  And that’s where the real magic of Yaya began.

We had no idea, that first year, what a precious thing we were creating.  We had no idea how seriously we all would take Yaya, and how much it would grow and morph over the years.  But I will tell you this… there is nothing quite like the honesty and love and support you get from a group of women who love you.   Who have known you since you had buck teeth and skinned knees, and watched you dress up for prom.  Who kissed your newborn baby and comforted you when your marriage was falling apart.  There is very little in the world that is more beautiful than the night when one of the Yayas was seriously ill, and the other princesses drove over state lines, donned the crowns and snuck into the ICU late at night, to giggle and hug and love the sick princess.  Or the coronation of a baby Yaya, who was born much, much too early and had to become a Yaya right away. That baby Yaya is now a healthy, happy 9-year-old, and while I’m sure it very much has to do with the powers of modern medicine, there may be a little bit of Yaya magic sprinkled in there, too. 

In two weekends, the princesses and I will be coming together to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Yaya.  Ten years.  It is staggering to me what has changed over those ten years.  I can’t begin to express the enormity of our losses, and the significance of our gains, in what life has dealt each of the princesses in the past ten years.

But one thing remains… we are still together.  We are still gathering to light that midnight bonfire.  To celebrate love and family and all the things that matter to each of us.

I am so honored, and blessed, to be a Yaya princess.

 

My top five September 11, 2012

Filed under: Family,Kindness,Parenting,Teenager,Uncategorized — hiddenblessing @ 10:32 pm
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I came across an article today that was titled Ten Things I Hate About Being A Dad. Ouch. I’m not sure I would ever want my children to have a list in hand of all the things I supposedly “hated” about being a parent. Talk about a guilt trip.

Now obviously, being a parent is not easy, by any means. It’s not even fun all the time. That includes me… there are nights, tonight happening to be one of them, that I am tired and grumpy and less than the mama I’d like to imagine myself. At one point, B and I were arguing like mad and at another, a saleslady in a store we were at was trying to bribe my children with candy because quite frankly, it was total mayhem and the line was ridiculous. But even so, I still love it. Even when it’s ugly and hard and infuriating and I’d really just like to hide away with a glass of wine and earplugs.

Now that my kids are in bed and my blood pressure has returned to a relatively normal level, I want to add my two cents about that Top Ten. Here are the top five things that I LOVE MOST about being a mom.

1. Walking through grocery stores with Baby L. I’m not talking about Walmart, mind you. We already know how that goes. But I’m talking the better moments… the ones where he insists on wearing his cowboy boots and Superman cape. The ones where he says “hi” to every man and woman over the age of sixty, and he wants to talk to every “friend” who is under three feet tall. Where the grandmas smile at me, and him, and I pray that I remember these moments and are not TOO jealous when I don’t have a small, fuzzy-headed baby whose legs pull up and his bottom sticks out when I pick him up. He doesn’t actually do that anymore, and I already miss it a little bit. Thank God he’s still tiny enough to let me kiss his squishy cheeks whenever I want to. But that pride I feel, that love that swallows me up, when I am out and about with a happy baby.

2. Holidays. There is so much magic in celebrating holidays with children. Now make no mistake, grown-up holidays are fun, too. I absolutely love long, leisurely dinners filled with wine and celebration with friends and family. But I love the magic that reflects in my children’s eyes even more. I love everything about it… the dyeing of Easter eggs, the messy carving of pumpkins. Mailing off lists to Santa and grinning at the explosion of wrapping paper that has engulfed my living room after presents have been opened. Making cookies that I know will be eaten almost as quickly as I can get them out of the oven. The shock and awe at the possible sighting of the sleigh in the sky and the way they squish their eyes closed to wish for sleep to come THAT VERY SECOND BECAUSE WHAT IF SANTA IS REALLY, REALLY CLOSE??? Reading “The Night Before Christmas.” I love the holidays.

3. Getting woken up in the night. Now bear with me here… I’m not saying that I love it for the sake of being woken up. But I love that my sleepy B still comes crawling into my bed and snuggles right up to me when he can’t sleep or has had a bad dream. I love the way his eyes are puffy and they roll back in happiness when I run my fingers through his hair. I love that he tells me more about his life in the middle of the night than any other time, and I love the way he yells random things in his sleep. I love that Baby L still sleeps with his butt in the air and cries out for me in the middle of the night because he wants his sippy cup refilled with water. I look at E and I already miss this. Every once in a great, great while he will watch a scary movie and come wake me up to talk to me about it. And I am absolutely ok with that…. it’s so rare now. I have to cherish the few times it does happen.

4. Activities. I think about all of the things that I can do without any concern for what anyone else thinks, purely because I have children with me. Disney movies? Absolutely. If I didn’t have the boys, I’m pretty sure I’d be a little self-conscious renting The Lorax. For that matter, I probably wouldn’t even know what The Lorax was. Think of all the movies I would have missed if I didn’t have them… Up. Shrek. Tangled. Rio. We go to the pool all the time, and even if I would rather NOT be wearing a swimsuit in public, when your boy begs you to go down the “toilet bowl” water slide with him… YOU DO IT. I can say with almost 100% certainty that wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t have kids. Going to carnivals. Pumpkin patches. Kite flying. Cheering like a crazy girl at the parade because it’s my children’s buddies out there marching and doing cartwheels in the street. Watching baseball and soccer games, sitting for hours at swim meets. Yes, we are busy. Too busy. But if I had a choice between being a mama and camping in 100 degree heat with a group of Boy Scouts, or being at home, alone, with an armful of books and a cup of tea, I would still choose to be a mama. I’ve got years to read and drink tea. I’ve got only a few to camp with Boy Scouts.

But number 5 has to take the cake. The number one thing I love most about being a mama is nearly impossible to put into words. It’s the way it makes me FEEL to know that these beautiful children are mine. That it is my responsibility, and duty, and the biggest blessing imaginable, to have been given these children to nurture. I love the sheer joy that caring for these sweet boys has brought me. I love the pride that fills up within me, and sometimes spills over and down my cheeks, and the gut-wrenching devotion they inspire in me. The raw, pure, fierce desire to protect and cherish and honor and love these human beings.

Goodnight, my friends. Sweet dreams.

 

Today is a strange day August 9, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — hiddenblessing @ 4:03 pm
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Today is a strange day.  The word CANCER has been popping up all day.  That is always frightening to me, because I always wonder why.  My life is filled with too many coincidences and how-strange-I-was-just-thinking-of-you (or that) moments to not be worried when it seems like I’m finding this word everywhere I turn. And of course, although I try to fight and spread awareness and donate to finding cures for childhood cancers, I cower from the mere thought of it.  Of any cancer, hurting my loved ones or myself.  So when it’s repeatedly throwing itself in my path today, I have to stop and take notice.

It started when I checked Facebook this morning.  A wonderfully talented girl that I knew once upon a time lost her father to cancer this week.  She is a blogger, and she usually writes poetry about her experiences in coming to grips with the fact that her child has Fragile X syndrome.   This week, however, her focus is of course changed and she’s talking about her father and her loss of him.  She wrote this wonderful essay on her father’s lack of anger at the cancer that was slowly eroding his body.  She says that he said “Why?” when asked if he was mad about it.  Because why would he be, with this beautiful life he’d had, this wonderful family, these great experiences? 

Please check her out, it’s worth it, I promise.  The posting I talk about above was “Are You Angry”, but this… this is beautiful…

http://xmarksmyheart.blogspot.com/2012/08/our-walk-to-remember.html 

When I went to find the site address for you, her poem brought tears to my eyes, so I decided to share it instead of the link I was originally going to.   So circling back to her father’s lack of anger, his belief that he had had it all…

My husband and I have talked about this a few times recently.  I’ve personally felt this way for a long time, but to hear him say it to me was immeasurably good for my soul.  We have it all.  Honestly, we do.  We are healthy, we have food on our table, we have three healthy, happy children, and we LOVE and ARE LOVED.  Is there anything else that we could possibly need?  No.  Would it be nice to have a vehicle made in the last ten years and new carpet and enough money to buy pretty clothes and all the shoes in the world?  Sure.  But would I choose that over what I have?  Never in a million years.  If I DID have lots of money, what I’d really want to do is give some of it away to fight things like the ugly “c” word we are discussing here today.

And of course… if I died tomorrow, I would be sad.  I would be sad because I don’t want to miss out on all that is ahead of me.  But all that I’ve had??  That is enough.  It is enough.

And then, I happen to stumble upon a news article about a girl, who is 13, just barely older than my E, who is fighting neuroblastoma and now discovers she has preleukemia cells as well.  This girl has a video blog about fighting her cancer and how to be beautiful without her wig.  She has mad skills with makeup (eyeliner, sweetheart, teach me how to put on eyeliner like you!) and a peaceful, poised outlook on life.   In her videoblog, she is trying to comfort YOU, the watcher.  Darling girl, if only there were more people like you.  What a beautiful place this would be.

Please say a prayer for this wonderful child.  One of the comments someone wrote on her blog was “the world is a better place for having had you in it” and I wholeheartedly agree.   Her parents must be so proud to call her theirs.   

Check her out:      http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=1slESfh_3M0

 

A most beautiful tree July 23, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — hiddenblessing @ 8:57 pm
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I want to start this by thanking the new friends who chose to follow my blog.  You inspired me ridiculously!  I was going to write today, and then I just wasn’t… and then I saw YOU!  I saw your friendly faces had LIKED what I had said and then oh, my goodness, am I so happy!  So thank you.  YOU are my hidden blessing of the day.

My cousin, who is a Marine, spent two years stationed in Okinawa, Japan.  He came back to the United States for a few weeks, and then went on to Afghanistan, where he was stationed for eighteen months or so.   Somehow he managed to miss every Christmas with our family.

Our Christmases have kind of changed in the years since my grandmother passed.  They’re not worse by any means, they are just different.  I say that with only a tiny smudge of sadness.  There are a lot of ways in which this is a good thing – I get to host at my home now, for example, and I get to spend days on end with my mother and stepdad in theirs.  But for my father’s side of the family,  it has become a nearly impossible feat to try to get everyone together in the same house.  Mostly, this is just because The House, her house, isn’t there for us anymore; a nesting place for us to all fly back home.  And so not only did we not get to come together again, but the Marine couldn’t come at all.

He finally was scheduled to come home from Afghanistan in late February.  We planned, we texted, we Facebooked, we emailed… we made all the plans in the world trying to figure out what weekend we might all be able to come together to celebrate this young man’s safe return home to his family.  And then this giant blizzard came through Russia and halted all travel.  We suddenly had no idea when he was coming home, or how long he’d get to stay home because he had to turn around after a certain number of days and go to North Carolina.  We just didn’t know.  So we waited.

Finally, finally he made it home.  All of us who could traveled hours and hours to converge upon my aunt and uncle’s home in Minnesota.  The home was filled with laughter, hugs, stories, and just plain… joy.  And a few more hugs.  The afternoon turned into evening and a group of us left for the airport to pick up another of our travelers.  Dusk and then early evening decended upon the city.

Turning back into the street upon which my aunt and uncle’s home sits, we all looked in surprise at the house.  There were Christmas lights lit, lining the porch and garage, a giant lit wreath above the garage.  We went inside and suddenly noticed that there was garland lining the woodwork in the kitchen, and then we saw that our aunt had put plates of Christmas cookies out.

The had decorated and baked Christmas cookies for the Marine, who had missed four years of Christmases with his family.  They had turned on the Christmas lights and decorated the most spindly, measly looking tree you have ever seen.  They stuck it on the deck next to us as we all sat outside on this cold March night in Minnesota.  My aunt’s father (who is in his eighties and is not a relation to the Marine) came over in full military attire to  pay his respects to the Marine.

It got darker and then we noticed it… the big evergreen that was lit up in all of its Christmas glory.  This tree, though, was not decorated by my aunt and uncle for their nephew.  This tree wasn’t even in their yard; it was a tree in a neighbor’s yard, on the other side of a wrought-iron fence.  This tree had been lit up by a neighbor… a neighbor who knew about the soldier who had missed so many Christmases, and knew about his homecoming that weekend.

This tree was the most beautiful Christmas tree I think I have ever seen.

It was radiant because it wasn’t just lit by pretty lights and all the retail packaging corporate America sells us over the holidays.  It was lit by kindness, and honor, and respect.  It radiated gratitude and friendship for our fellow neighbors, sons and daughters, nieces and nephews.

That, my dear friends, is an image I will never forget.