Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It's a Girl!

"Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think." Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)

Nineteen years ago, my life and my heart changed forever. It is a day that is etched in my memory, the details as clear as though they happened yesterday.

During the first few minutes of Wednesday, November 13, 1991 I gave birth to my first child. A healthy, full head of hair, tiny fingers and toes, pink little bundle of joy.....Kristi graced the earth with her presence. As I looked into her face, I saw hope, dreams, laughter, and for the first time in my life, I felt unconditional love. I truly, deeply, profoundly understood what it mean to love someone more than life itself.

After three long days, several trips to the hospital, false alarms, monitors, injections, centimeters and such, Kristi Valori weighing 6 lbs 1 oz and a mere 19 1/2 inches long  pushed her way into the world. Immediately, she became the fulfillment of a dream. She was the product of deep love between her father and I but she was and is so much more. She was the first grandchild and great grandchild in the family. Her arrival was anticipated and celebrated months before she actually drew her first breath.

As I sit here now, reflecting on that day, and the many since, I am in awe of the person she has become. She was the most beautiful baby girl. Her tiny ringlets framed her face and her laughter filled our home. She loved to play outside, help her Daddy and listen to her Pepere's stories. As she grew, it became more and more obvious to those who love her what a special girl Kristi would be. In grade school, she was the kind-hearted child who would help another student who struggled with a math assignment. She was loved by her teachers and had a wide circle of friends. Although very social, she also loved being at home, preferring to stay  here at home and watch movies than go to the slumber party.

Junior High and High School brought more friends, more activities and many more choices. To this day, I admire how she handles those situations. Although friendly with everyone, she chooses her "friends" wisely. She loves to have fun and enjoy life but prefers to do that without using drugs, alcohol or mischief. A friend asked me recently, how I raised a child, in this society to be this way. I honestly, don't know. By the grace of God I think.

It would be sooo easy for me to look back and wish for her to be little again. To re-live the cookie baking, the pj days, the impromptu playdates with the Croteaus and the Blais's. To pine away for craft projects we made, the stories we read and the memories we made. Instead, as I pull into the parking lot of her dorm, I am overcome with emotion. Not with regret or the loss of my "baby girl" ...but with the realization that we have reached a new place in our relationship. We are no longer just mother & daughter.....we are friends.

Its a feeling and a place that makes my heart so full its difficult to express. Being Kristi's mom is a tremendous joy, it always has been and I assume it always will be.

Being her friend, is a blessing!


Friday, November 12, 2010

Salty or Sweet?

"You are the salt of the earth.  But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor?  Can you make it salty again?  It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless."  Matthew 5:13

One of the key struggles I had with my initial decision to accept Christ into my life was that I didn't want to lose who I was.  I actually like me.  My entire life, I worked hard to be different than other actually not fit into a certain mold and although I struggled with friendships and relationships along the way because of that - I secretly enjoyed walking to the tune of my own drum.  I am drawn to the person that stands out; I am intrigued by them. 

A year ago, two of my girlfriends and I experienced a girls get-a-way week-end together at the beach.  The bartender at the Inn we stayed at was one of these intriguing people.  Because I'm drawn to interesting characteristics, this particular girl had many piercings, an attractive haircut and these deep, deep eyes that when you looked into them, you really saw her soul.  Although what really intrigued me was the tattoo she had scribed across her chest that read:  Beautiful Disaster.  I absolutely loved it!  Not that I'm about to go out and get a tattoo across my chest, but what it acknowledged for her was that her life wasn't perfect, and yes she had made many mistakes, however she had the courage to be who she was and was not apologetic for it.  She didn't feel the need to be a certain way or fit into a certain mold.  Whether it was the tattoo or perhaps the fact that I could really see into her soul that brought me to that conclusion, the end result was that I respected her for it.  In fact, I had more respect for her unapologeticness (is that a word?) than I would if she was molded by society, her interpretation of what her life should be like, or whatever!

So, since my journey as Christian began in 2009, I am living my life and my walk with God "Tammy Style".  For me, my relationship is unique and different than anyone else's and yes it comes with road bumps, stop signs and even very large brick walls; however a relationship with God "Tammy Style" means I am totally honest with God about my hang-ups, my challenges, my issues.  When things don't make sense to me or I don't see God's bigger plan, I don't pretend I am happy about it but instead I say, "God - I totally don't get what is going on here and why these challenges are in my life but what I do know for sure is that you have a plan.  And thank goodness because I have no idea what to do next.  So, I'm just gonna let go and let you handle it." 

I'm am soo thankful that God in fact wants me to be different!  He wants a relationship with me "Tammy Style" and he wants me to stand out in the crowd so that others will have the courage to step out in faith too!  How about you?  What's your style?


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Little Tikes

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!"~ 1 John 3:1

I love my job. It's true!  Anyone one who knows me, knows I do.

I am a daycare provider. Five days a week I welcome 3 beautiful children into my home and do my very best to love and care for them like they were my own. I make bottles and change diapers. I read stories and kiss boo-boos. I serve lunches and tuck sweet sleepy faces in for naps. I trip over toys and wipe up spills.  I dance with Elmo and the gang, I color and glue and play with playdough. I teach and love and discipline. I truly do love my job!

My earliest memories include playing with baby dolls. I had every baby doll imaginable. Mrs. Beasley, Baby Alive, Betsey Wetsy, Holly Hobby, Raggedy Anne, I had them all! Nothing made me happier than the Sears Wishbook Catalog. I knew my Nana would let me choose any dolly I wanted for Christmas. So, its pretty obvious that I wanted to be a mom. I embraced motherhood with passion and determination and incredible joy. I'm the kind of mom who couldn't wait for school vacations so that I could have my kids back at home again with me. Yeah, I know, most of you think I'm crazy, but its true.

My own  daughters are nearly grown now. Kristi is  in college and Chelsea is  in high school. They don't need me like they used to. Don't get me wrong, they need me, it just looks different now.We are still very much a part  of each others daily  lives. Anyway,  I thought my "mommy days" were over. But God had another plan. The opportunity to start my own daycare fell into my lap. It was a chance I didn't want to pass up. To love babies again, be a support  to their parents AND get paid?   I jumped on it.

Its not a job for everyone. But for me its a perfect fit. However, there are some challenging, down right difficult days.. Yesterday was one of those days. Jack is a beautiful 4 month old. Normally  he's happy and predictable. Yesterday though,  I was faced with an infant who fussed for most of the afternoon. He was clean, he was fed, he had napped but he was UNHAPPY. I tried everything, rocking, singing, playing. No matter what I tried, I didn't do whatever it was he wanted me to do.

Isabella is an adventurous one year old, who is experiencing a bit of separation anxiety. She wouldn't let me leave her sight. The minute I turned my back, set her down  or stepped away for just a moment she WAILED. A blood curdling, "Where are you?!" screech is more like it.   Katie, the two-going-on-twelve  year old demanded. She demanded...... "something else for lunch" and she demanded  "to watch Dora NOT Barney". She demanded all day long.  She argued about putting her shoes on and taking the time to use the potty.  You see, it was a long long day.

But this morning, as I write, baby Jack  is peacefully sleeping in his bed. He looks angelic. His deep slow breathes epitomizes  relaxation. His little lips are curled into a precious smile. Bella and Katie are playing silly peek-a-boo games with each other and completely cracking each other up.The sound of their laughter is incredibly beautiful and  contagious. I can't help but laugh too!  Every now and then,  one or both, will approach me with a spontaneous hug or a kiss. Immediately, I have forgotten yesterday's chaos and exhaustion.

I wonder if that's sort of how God looks down on us?

Do we appear as small children, immature in our wants and reactions and behaviors?  We fuss and demand and wail. We want what we want....and we want it NOW! We throw our tantrums about what we want God to do, when we want him to do it and how we expect him to do it too. He just sits there patiently, maybe with an eye roll or a shake of his head. He knows.....he knows it will pass and no matter how poorly we behave he'll love us regardless. He forgets our tantrums and our bad decisions and simply delights in our being.

I imagine he looks down on us and chuckles.....often.  He marvels at us when we do obey him. He laughs when we entertain him with our antics. He takes joy in knowing we are his children and there's nothing we can ever do that will change his love. How great is that?

Duty calls........there's a fort of blankets we need to explore and a tower of blocks we need to knock over and rebuild!


*childrens names have been changed to protect their anonymity