Thursday, April 20, 2017

Weeping and Mourning

I've often heard of parents talking about how they have wept over their children.  I personally have never done it...until now. 

Yesterday, as Junior and I took her tricycle around one of the tree-lined lakes in the area, she did something disobedient and unkind.  I called her out on it, and had the usual conversation with her about kindness and obedience (disobedience is painful, obedience leads to life, God wants us to be obedient, kindness is important, etc.).  And some version of the following dialogue ensued (me in italics, her in bold):

That was unkind, Ducky.  Do you understand?

(Nods yes)

Is it important to be kind?

(Nods yes)

Say, "Yes, Mommy."

(Does nothing)

Ducky, listen to me.  Kindness is important.  Being unkind is disobedient.  Disobedience makes God sad.  Is it important to be obedient?

(Shakes head no)

No, that's not right, Ducky. Obedience IS important.  Disobedience is painful, and it makes God unhappy.  Don't you want to make God happy?


You don't?!  You don't want to do what God wants?


You just want to do what Ducky wants to do, huh?

(Nods yes)

That's really sad, Ducky.  That's really, really sad.  Disobedience is painful, and only obedience leads to life.  And you know...our words need to be true. And I realize that your words right now are true; you DO just want to do what Ducky wants to do.  We are all like that.  But...that's really sad. And we need God to change our hearts.  I will pray for God to change your heart.

No change heart! No change heart!

You don't want God to change your heart?

(Shakes head no.)

* * *

I cannot think of a more heartbreaking conversation that I've had in recent memory.  It made me weep and mourn.  And yes, I know that she is only two years old.  But the thing about it is...I do think she understands at some (rather significant) level what we were talking about.  And she was completely unashamed of wanting what she wanted, end of story.

What heartbreak to realize that the things she said--the things she feels and does--are a reflection of all mankind, including me. We all started out that way, and those whom Jesus called have been changed by his grace.  All others are stuck in Junior's mindset and heart disposition--a terrible place to be.  

I was reminded of how desperate a situation all of our souls are in until Christ rescues us from the hand of death and leads us to an abundant life.  How grateful I am for freedom in Christ...and how urgently I plead for the same grace to extend to my children.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Pinch Me

Because sometimes I feel as if I am brimming with too much joy to contain.  Is this life real?  Is it really mine?  Thank You, Lord, for making my cup run over--day after day after day.

The last three days have been an unexpected gift.  Hurricane Matthew shut down the courts and the schools, leaving Daddy, Mommy, and Ducky with a freebie four-day weekend on our hands.  (Didn't have to use up any of my precious few vacation days!)  So very thankfully, God spared us of Matthew's devastation--and even modern-day conveniences, as we didn't lose more than a brief flicker of power.

Instead of dealing with flooding, broken windows, life-by-flashlight, generators and gas stoves (let alone injury or loss of life), God mercifully and generously gave us several sweet days of close togetherness.  

...Extended time in our pajamas, reading in Ducky's "library room."  And by "reading" I mean her "reading" books to herself and us watching her with great amusement.  She is increasingly independent, and often wrests the book away, points to herself, and says, "Me."  She wants to do it all herself...and all the better if it's done leaning against her favorite pillow (very particular, this one), with Bunny Blanket by her side, snuggled up between Mommy and Daddy.  Once in a while, after she's had enough of "reading" to herself, she climbs into my lap, sticks her left thumb (it's always been her left thumb) into her mouth, grabs Bunny's ears to begin another stroke-session, and chooses a book for me to read to her.  Her favorites include "Curious George and the Birthday Surprise," "God Bless You and Good Night," "Thank You Prayer," and "Should I Share My Ice Cream?"  When she chooses one, that's usually the book we'll have to stay on for a long, long time.  Because after each reading, she will tap her right fist into her left palm twice--Ducky language for, "Again! Again!"  And so we read...again...and again...and again.  The same book, over and over.  And yes, sometimes it feels tedious.  But mostly, it feels like a gift to  be the chosen one who gets to read to this precious child over and over again, with her snuggled in my lap, utterly content.  

...The nonsensical soundtrack of our lives, which goes something like (bold font is Ducky; regular is Daddy and Mommy):  "MOMMY!  Yes, my ducky.  MOM!  I'm right here, my Ducky.  What is it?  Meow.  Oh, you want to go see the meows?  You want to go outside and see Miss Kendall's cats?  Goo-goo.  Yes, I see your acorns.  You have so many acorns.  Wait--that one doesn't have a hat. Can you find a hat for this acorn?  Oh--you're stuffing them into Mommy's shorts pocket again, are you?  No, no, not into the big pocket. You can put them into the small pocket.  Goo-goo! Goo-goo! I know you love your acorns!  Mommy, goo-goo amiwadjanoowww Mommy! Mommy! Goo-goo ami meow ajdiwowwww.  Whoa! Mommy! MOMMY!  Yes, my ducky.  Mommy WATSCH.  You want some water?  Nooooo.  Yes, you need some water.  You need some watsch.  WATSCH.  Yes, I know.  You need some water. Mommy's going to get you some.  Noooooo! YES, my ducky.  Come on.  Drink drink.  Nooo! (whimpers)  Ducky.  You need to drink some water.  Look! Bobby (Bunny) is having some...Bobby wants you to have some. Yeah! Goooooood.  Drink drink."  On and on.  Every day.  Day in and day out.  I kind of love it.

...Playtime outside.  This evening we played outside for over an hour after dinner, until after the sunset.  At the outset, she wanted Daddy and Mommy to sit on a bench as she did the teeter-totter by herself.  All by herself.  So independent.  Later, when I was talking to one of our neighbors, she wanted Mommy's attention...just to have it.  Typical toddler.  And then she wanted me to hold her hand so she could walk on the balance beam, step up the mushroom stools, climb up, and fall backwards as I caught her on the way down (and then I spun her around and she shrieked with delight).  We did that at least fifteen times this evening.  And then as the sun was setting, she held both of my hands and led me to the far end of the big green park past the playground...away, away, away under a glowing half-moon.  Later, Daddy came to find us and she had a ball running back and forth to claim hugs from Mommy and Daddy, giggling and shrieking all the way.     Yesterday we did a bike ride and she fell asleep halfway through.  And this morning I took her to the lake to see swans, geese, and ibises.  She was so entranced.  She also wanted to walk on the red brick road on the edge of the sidewalk...and up and down the bridge...again and again...and then she wanted to walk backwards...and then she wanted to be carried (surprise, surprise).  

...Speaking of carrying...These days I'm carrying an extra 15 pounds anyway--and she's another 26 pounds or that's about 40 extra pounds of extra weight a lot of the time.  But unless I really must, I don't force her to walk.  These days of carrying my girl are limited.  The days of snuggling with her while nursing, with her legs tucked between mine, for 30 minutes each morning...those days are numbered.  The days of her wanting MOMMY! to come watch her, hold her, comfort her, be with her, hold her hand, read to her, entertain her, sing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" ad nauseum to her,...those days will end, and all too soon.

...Family naps.  My favorite.  

...All the other stuff inbetween. Collecting acorns on the sidewalk.  Chasing firetrucks (and praying for them, of course).  Hunting meows.  Playing with glue, colored pencils, pens, and crayons.  Watching her carry that wooden hamburger around (or pull a train of her plastic hamburgers back and forth -- "beep! beep!" -- this morning).  The affection for the stuffies--soooo much affection for the stuffies (yessss).  Reading, reading, reading, little bookworm.  Playing on the piano, and having her invite Mommy to sit next to her (something new).  Teaching her to say please ("peas") and thank you ("gank-you"), and to show kindness, generosity, thoughtfulness, patience, perseverance, and obedience (that's the really hard stuff).  The snuggles and hugs and holding her hand.  

Pinch me because I'm too lucky, and though the days can be long, the years truly are short.  Thank You, dear Lord, from a truly grateful and content heart.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Dear Junior

​Dear Junior,

​Hi, my dear ducky.  Bright shining light in my life.  So much of who you are brings me life and joy:  

Your smiles and giggles.  Your mischievous glint in your eye when you raise your eyebrows, as if to say, "Check this out, Mommy..."  

Your enthusiastic koala-bear hugs, the kind where you hug my neck so tight and cling to me with your legs--you give them spontaneously and freely, and melt my heart each time.  

Your affection for Bunny Blanket, and the tender way you stroke his ears, give him heartfelt besos, and light up when you see him and get to drag him around (and how you take care not to drag him by his ears, but by his neck--good girl).   

Your tremendous affection for Daddy and Mommy, and how you are happiest when both of us are around.  You are more content with Mommy by herself versus Daddy by himself, but you love it best when we both are present.  

Your increasing ability to listen and obey.  You do best when we tell you in advance what's going to happen, and you tell us that you understand (your ability to nod and say "yeah" is very helpful!).  After that, you mostly don't get upset by whatever happens next.   And more and more, you spontaneously say "thank you" (which sounds more like "ganku") at the appropriate times.  :)

You are very particular.  It's genetic--I knew it!  You take after Mommy in that way.  You like things to be in their place, and you like to keep your hands clean.  You pick out a crumb on your tray at the start of dinner and hand it to Mommy for discarding.  A little too particular, but I get a kick out of it.  :)  And it comes in handy for other things--like how you always keep your crayons at the table, put away your toys when told, and put away your duckies (upside down) at bathtime.  Hehehe.

You are very, very sweet.  You love giving out hugs, you run to Mommy brimming with glee and love for no particular reason at all.  You love being held, and can hang around in my arms, content, doing nothing in particular, for a long, long time.  It makes me think that that's how God wants us to be in His presence.  Thanks for teaching me about childlike love, little one.

You are also very, very fun.  You love to hide and seek.  You love the unexpected.  You love to make games out of anything (you get that from Daddy), and you love to giggle.  You have been so blessed with a very fun and rich life, little one.  Turn it all to gratitude and good as you grow up.

I just wanted you to know.  Mommy adores you and loves you so much.  You are such a gift, and we give tremendous thanks to God for you!


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Reflections, Part III

This is what happens when you're the parent of a toddler: gone is spontaneity; carpe diem is out, routine is in.  (Frankly, as fun as spontaneity is, I love routine.)  So it is Saturday morning again, Mr. Squire is at basketball (after letting me sleep in until 10 AM - GLORIOUS!) and Junior is napping.

And so much happened this week.  SO much.  Sigh.

Let's start with the single mom living with us.  We had a big talk with her last Sunday evening, and--thanks be to God--it went really, really well.  She was pretty receptive to everything we were saying, we set out our goals for her (she's cooking her first dinner tonight!), and generally gave her what I would call tough-but-loving encouragement.  And I think God really gave especially Mr. Squire (who was doing the bulk of the talking) a special patience and love that wasn't nearly as present during our private discussions beforehand.  God heard our prayers :)  So all that's good.

* * *

Then the rest of what happened last week happened... the Voice singer, the Orlando attack, the toddler and the alligator...oh. my. goodness.

We were not directly affected by any of these events, yet they loomed large in our everyday lives.  They weighed on our souls so heavily, and we trudged through the week feeling like we were carrying enormous burdens, but we weren't quite sure why.  Of course, I've been incredibly affected by the attack at work; everything has changed about everything at the office--from what we are doing, to when we are doing it, to who is doing what, and to who is covering for the whos that are doing what, and when.  

But the hardest thing has been just the sheer weight of collective grief in the community and region.  I will note that there has been tremendous comfort and encouragement in seeing the community come together, but there is still this corporate shock and mourning that is still raw and palpable from day to day.  I'm usually the bright and sunny, chipper lets-do-this worker bee at work... but this week, I was just so tired, and each day I thought it was later in the week than it actually was. I seriously thought Tuesday was Thursday--the week just seemed to stretch forever.  And then I slept 11 hours last night.  Because seriously: it was that kind of week.

It's hard to explain this situation to Junior, though I try, because she needs to know and we cannot (nor should we) hide the realities of evil in this world from our child.  I explain to her that there are sometimes people who hurt others in a big way, and sometimes even in the name of God, but that's not who our God is.  When she sees beauty, and order, and harmony, and compassion, and peace, and joy, and community--those are indicative of who our God is.  And when she sees discord, and grudges, and evil acts against others, and fighting, and shaming--those are indicative of the enemy.  And our job is to believe in God, and hope in Him, and reflect the things that show who He is.  (And also know that we all contribute to the evil in this world, and need Jesus to help us.)  It was a good teaching opportunity... but what a horrifically sad occasion to have a teaching opportunity arise.

The thing I've craved most this week is human connection.  Usually I bring my lunch to work and work through lunch so I can get home sooner, and my co-workers have to drag me out to lunch once in a while (or I have to commit to myself that I will go hang out with them). But this week, I found myself trolling the halls, looking for a lunch partner, every single day.  I just wanted to talk to someone, and process everything that was going on, and ... I don't know... feel better.

And then I missed, more than ever, our friends from our heart-home of New York.  I received a few sweet and thoughtful emails over the course of the week, which I appreciated so much.  I was actually surprised at how few people reached out; maybe they thought that because the attack took place in a gay Latino nightclub that we were wholly unaffected.  But the grief is widespread, and I don't know how else to explain it, but when something like this happens so close to home, it's just different.

Anyway, I miss my friends.  I miss my family.  We have a wonderful life here, and it would be perfect, except for the big missing piece of our beloved community.  And we are building community--and have been blessed in that respect--but it's just not quite the same.


* * *

Father's Day is tomorrow.  Yay for fathers, and for those of us who have fathers in our lives who are worth celebrating.

I bought a card for Mr. Squire that features a big bear on a bicycle with a little bear in the bicycle basket.  It is so appropriate (SO appropriate!) because he always takes her to and from school on the bike, and she sits in a seat directly in front of him.  Everyone in our neighborhood recognizes the baby in the green helmet on the bike with her daddy.  

And she is, indeed, so so lucky to have Mr. Squire as a dad.  
He changes all her diapers without complaint.  

He makes her laugh when she is sad.  And when she is not sad.

He prepares her lunch, cutting all those mushrooms, beans, strawberries, oranges, and pieces of chicken without fail.  

He packs her lunch, making sure to include 2 cups (milk and water), 2 containers (fruit and lunch), and a half piece of whole wheat bread in her bee bag.  

He plays with her after school for 3 hours each day until Mommy comes home--taking her to the playground, chasing her around the house, helping her perfect the art of lounging, feeding and cajoling her into finishing the remainder of her lunch (while bribing with cheese and goldfish), helping her water Mommy's airplants, etc.

He constantly studies her behavior in an attempt to understand her better.  He knows that when she is not feeling well, she wants to sit in our lap and read "God Bless You and Good Night" (her book from Auntie Cze-Ja).

He cares for her so deeply and lovingly.

He teaches her new things constantly.

He shows love to her mommy.

He's the best daddy ever.  You're welcome, Junior.  Mommy picked a good one.  (Okay, okay -- time to be humble... you're welcome, Junior.  Mommy can't take any credit: God gave BOTH OF US a good one.)

Happy Father's Day, Daddy.  We love you so much.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Reflections, Part II

Well, this rarely happens... when Junior is napping and Mr. Squire is at basketball, and I am awake enough to not want a nap, and... I finally have the physical and mental space to reflect.  Feels nice.  :)

One of the things that we're challenged with is the single mom living with us (without her child).  Yesterday she put us on notice that her aunt in another state (who is caring for the child) told her that she doesn't need to rush in reuniting with the child; she should take the time she needs to restore her own life.

This puts a bit of a wrench in our plans... our plans had been to give her a home to stay in, for free, for 4 months so that she could get her life in order enough (e.g. find a place to live, move in, get things ready) to reunite with her child.  She has a job--a decent-paying one--and no substance-abuse issues, and she's clearly intelligent, so we figured 4 months should be sufficient.  Looks like she'll be with us longer than that.

But we can't have her live with us forever; that's not good for her or for us.  So it leaves us in a bit of quandary as to what to do next.  We never expected to essentially be parenting a teenager at our age (it's as if we had had a kid at 16!).  We (Mr. Squire and I) talked about it at length last night, though, and I think we have a go-forward plan... I just hope/pray that it works out and doesn't blow up in our face somehow.  

Starting next month, we're going to set monthly progressive goals for her that will build on one another (the ones we have in mind are:  wash dishes twice a week, and prepare a meal for the whole family once a week; set a budget for the future; attend a support group; wash dishes twice a week and prepare a meal for the whole family twice a week--and "look for housing options" will be on each month's goal list), and starting in Month 5, we will start charging actual rent that she will not get back (instead, we will subtract out what it costs for her to live with us, then forward the balance to a battered women's shelter or something like that).  

The thing is, if she's not going to reunited with her child, then...I guess the only thing we can really work toward is helping her gain her independence, since she claims that her ex emotionally abused her to the point where she couldn't make any of her own decisions.  So my hope is that by setting these monthly goals for her--and making her continued stay with us contingent on her meeting those goals--we can give her structure and incentive to do the things she needs to do.  I've never really dealt with someone who claimed to have PTSD as a result of emotional abuse, and I told her at the outset that we were here to encourage and support her and give her a safe place to heal and grow, but that we weren't here to be her counselors.

I feel like our role is to give her a bit of tough love and guidance, to teach her and not enable her.  I feel like so many voices in her life are just giving her license to wallow in her misery without a real step forward.  And there is a definite place for grieving and processing and working through that mess (and that's what counseling and support groups are for), but there's also an entire life that needs to be moved on with...and a child who is waiting for her mommy's return.

It's hard to know what is the right thing to do.  It's challenging to balance our sense of "come on, get with it" against our recognition that she needs compassion and mercy.  I'm not quite certain what the point of this exercise is, and we did kind of jump into it headlong without a lot of time to fully weigh the way it might play out.   But I'm sure God will help us figure it out...

Friday, June 10, 2016


There's nothing like being sick--and spending more than 36 hours in bed over two days--to get me to stop and reflect.

And be thankful for health, and all the other days that have come and gone, without enough sleep, without enough decompression time, without enough exercise, (probably) without enough nutrition... without issue.

And be thankful that at least my child is healthy again, because seeing her suffer through a fever and a bout of hand-foot-mouth last weekend was awful, and the only consolation was that I was able to be there to hold her in my lap, the only place she wanted to be, all...weekend...long.

And linger a nice while on that thought, of little Junior on my lap.  I love it when she's on my lap.  She loves to climb onto my lap when I'm sitting in a chair.  She loves to plop down on my lap when I'm sitting on the floor.  She loves to walk up to me expectantly and look up at me with those eyes that say, "Pick me up, bosh?"  (Because "bosh" means please in Junior-speak.)  She loves it when Mommy holds her.  It can stop her from crying in a second, it can bring a joyful smile to her face (with an excited kick of her legs), it can make her squeal with delight, it can bring her to her safe and comfy space.  What a privilege to be the arms that hold this little one! I never say no, and I will carry her for an entire afternoon, through Costco, through the gardens, through the Science Center, whatever...because I know the day will soon come when I can carry her no longer.  Or she won't want me to.  These days are precious and limited, and I am enjoying each one.

And sign onto Facebook and consider the brevity of our lives here.  The number of friends, or friends-of-friends, or law school classmates, or family-of-friends who have lost their lives under the age of 35 is astonishing.  A lot of cancer and other health problems.  Mostly, actually.  The occasional freak accident.  All sad.  All reminders to enjoy each moment that we have.

Which...I mostly do.  But I feel the insidious monster of discontent creep in eventually, and it has been visiting me as of late.  Oh, who are your friends here, really?  Who's your bestie at work?  Oh, you don't have one?  You get along with everyone great, but no bestie -- even though nearly everyone else has a bestie, how about youuu?  And no mommy friends?  Well, no close mommy friends?  Well, that's what happens when you're a working mommy friends for youuuu...

and on and on.

I could finish, but it's time for my next nap!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


It's been one thing after another lately, and I just want to PAUSE...and reflect, even if just for a few minutes (because I need to pack for our trip tomorrow!).

Since my ten-day stint away from home for training, a lot has happened.  We bought a house (fewer than three weeks elapsed between the house going on the market and our closing), moved in, and I did my first trial.  Oh, and we took in a single mom to live in our home for the next four months (but without the baby, who is in a different state...long story).  Talk about...whew.

It's been good. 

The house has been such a blessing.  It is beautiful and practical, in the ideal location (for us), and came furnished (I know--whaaa???) in exactly the style that I love.  It came with stuffed animals (hello! Match made in heaven!), including an elephant that is the exact twin of Junior's favorite stuffie from her first daycare.  It came with the same drinking glasses that we received for our wedding but broke during our second move.  It has a little yard where I can plant wildflowers.  It has oodles and oodles of natural light.  It is perfect for us, and such an amazing blessing.  We are incredibly thankful at how generous God was in giving this to us.

The move was fairly uneventful...for me.  :-p  Mr. Squire the long-suffering servant leader took care of most of it.  Our third move in 20 months (and my 15th or so in 15 years).  And our last one! YAY!

Trial is still going.  But it is almost over.  

The single mom living with us was unexpected and sudden.  But we felt like God had given us this house just in time to meet her needs.  So it was a leap of faith (we didn't even know her last name until three days before she moved in), and so far things are fine. It's a stretching experience for me to share my emotional space with someone who isn't family; I'm an introvert and especially with working on trial, I'm just tired/preoccupied most of the time.  But it's been good and we continue to walk in faith that this is the right thing to do at this time.

In other news, Junior is super-fun and has finally decided that she's willing to wear sunglasses.  She is starting to talk more (more recent words include "hot," which sounds like "ahch"), is very expressive about most things, and is showing more interest in coloring (probably thanks to her wonderful teacher at school!).  She is also pushing boundaries more, but almost always does a great job correcting her behavior when you tell her "no, let's try that again."  She's a joy and a gift.  We are so thankful for her!

Mr. Squire continues to be the best life partner ever.  I think the stress of the move was hard for us, but now we're more relaxed and back to our usual selves.  :)

Unpause...packing time!