My Rocking Chair

My rocking chair is a time machine.
I hold your nearly toddler self, hair matted from a day of play and learning, and catch a glimpse of the tiny baby boy with a furrowed brow that I brought home; you struggling to eat, me struggling to feed you and hold myself together. I could see your little neck then, now hidden under the layer of padding that God has given you to cushion your fearless falls and to fuel your exploration. Has it really been a year since you left my womb and filled our home with your presence?
My rocking chair is a metronome.
“Cree, cree”, it says over and over until we’re done. Forward and backward it rocks, on and on until you calm and are ready for sleep. It marks the slow and blinding passage of time, good days and bad days, confident and turbulent days. No matter the day, here is where it ends. Some days I ask the Lord to grant us another good day, and some days I thank the Lord that the day is finally over. My favorite tick of the metronome is when you turn, your mind full of sleep, and bury your nose in my chest. It is then that I try to slow time down by rocking more slowly and holding my breath. One day, this metronome will stop ticking and your daddy as I won’t hold you every night; you will be too independent.
My rocking chair is a battle field, stained with tears, blood, and milk.
We’ve fought so many nights on that tiny battle field. (Forward) go to sleep, (backward) now please, (forward) go to sleep, (backward) now please, (forward) go to sleep, (backward) for the love of all that is holy and sanctified now please. We’ve fought illness and pain together in that chair, fighting snotty noses and hurting gums, twice taking you to the Emergency Department for extra help; sometimes fighting invisible enemies that leave us both frustrated and in pain. We’ve fought my insecurities as a mother when you cried out for your daddy or when the way I wanted to feed you didn’t work and I took it personally. Those nights when we still fought to breast feed, your daddy slept on the floor in your room because I was so scared of my frustration but God saw us through.
My rocking chair is an altar of prayer.
Even before you were born, I rocked in the chair and prayed for you. I prayed that the Lord would be honored by your life, even if He took you before I knew you like He took your sister. After you were born, I prayed that you would grow strong and eat well, and that I would be a mother that would honor Him first. I prayed that God would use your big voice and love of music for His glory; that He would use your strength to love others, your hands to serve, your quick mind to help, your sensitive heart to love. I pray that you would know Him as your daddy and I do.
My rocking chair is a play ground.
Your chubby hands smack the arm rests as you fight sleep in my lap, making enough noise to amuse you. All your weight pushing on the front of my rocking chair makes the blanket draped over the back billow like a ships’ sail as you stand in front of it and pull on the bar in the middle to make it rock without me. The bars underneath become a jungle gym as you crawl around, under, and between them to retrieve lost toys and evade us when we’re chasing you. We read books and escape to distant lands, going on adventure after adventure while you delay bedtime.

If my rocking chair were a rocket ship, we’d have flown to the moon and back twice in your first year with all the rocking we’ve done to fuel it. One day, when you’re too big to rock, my little wooden rocking chair will be full of memories of those flights; full of memories of my tiny boy who’s all grown up. But for now, I’ll rock you for one more minute and kiss you goodnight an extra time to store up enough memories in my rocking chair so that when you’re too big to rock, I’ll have that many more minutes of rocking and kissing to look back on. I will remember when you were just a baby and I was just starting to learn how to be your mommy.

Happy first birthday, #littleman. I am so grateful that God has allowed me to be your mommy.

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Pray

One of the most powerful things that you can do for someone who has experienced loss is to pray for them and let them know that you’re praying for them. It seems simple, but so often it’s forgotten.

This may feel too simple, but really, it is so pivotal.

James 5:16b-18

The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

So, if the loss is of a child or of an adult, remember to pray for those who are left behind. And let the person you love know that you’re praying for them.

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

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Small Spaces

So, remember how I sprained my wrist? I alluded to the humorous side of that story in my last post, but there has been a bit of learning intermingled in that humor. 

After I sprained my wrist, I couldn’t give it complete rest. My job consists of working primarily on the computer, which includes typing and keeping my wrist at a funny angle at almost all times. So, right when I injured my wrist, I thought if I just rested it some, it would be okay. It got better for a time, and then it started to get worse. It began to ache to the point where I couldn’t push anything with the wrist. I had to practice getting out of bed in the morning like a ninja without using my hands. I also learned how to brush my teeth with my left hand and how to cut my food up with my opposite hand. 

After a month of getting worse, I finally broke down and asked for an x-ray. I was so scared I’d broken my wrist. Husband-Man had to ban me (at my request) from looking up pictures of what corrective wrist surgery is all about. The x-ray came back fine, and after another few weeks of pain, I was sent for an MRI. 

Now, I’ve had an MRI before. When I was a senior in high school, I had what turned out to be a month long stress headache, and the doctors wanted to make sure I didn’t have any visible brain issues. I had to lay in a small tube for about half an hour that day, with loud noises, no movement, no ear plugs, and a crippling headache. I tried to forget that experience. 

I wasn’t as worried about going through this MRI. I didn’t have a monster of a headache, and I was more concerned with the results than the test itself. And then, as I was taken back into the MRI room as posed for the MRI, I started to lose my cool. I was told to stretch my arm out (Super Man style) and to lay with my arm extended, with my wrist held in place with a heavy cushion to reduce movement. I was told several times that I could not move, or we would have to restart the test. And then I was slid into the machine. I felt like a torpedo waiting in a torpedo bay. It was small and loud, and although I normally don’t get stressed in small spaces, I was not comfortable being shoved into that little tube with my arm fully extended. 

Now, as you can imagine, I was okay for about five minutes. And then, I started to panic. My shoulder started to shake because I am not physically conditioned to hold my arm still like that for so long. My head was wringing with the noise of the machine. I was so worried that I would move involuntarily and mess up the test. And time felt like it was standing still. I was sure that the test would never be over. 

And then I remembered the story in Acts 16 about Paul and Silas and their reaction to being thrown into jail. 

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas.30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.

I realize that I wasn’t in jail. I was receiving valuable medical care, that I was privileged to receive. But, I was panicking. I didn’t think I could make it through the entire test. I didn’t feel strong enough, mentally or physically. So, I sang songs in my head. I sang hymns to the rythmn of the machine. And I prayed for each and every person that I could think of. I prayed for my family, my friends, the MRI technician, the nice greeter at the welcome desk.

And eventually, the test was over (after about thirty minutes). What are you panicking about? Your job? Your health? Something else? How is God calling you to respond? Focus on the goodness of God, and keep Him at the forefront of your mind. Be encouraged, my friends. To borrow Husband-Man’s expression, it’s okay.