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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

There once was an oak tree & a weeping willow...

This man. He has a strong, quiet gentility that cannot be questioned. He is like the big oak tree that has been in your yard as long as you can remember. There is no doubt the oak has weathered it's fair share of storms and abuse, but the oak will not complain or stop. It just stays and grows as slow and quiet as can be; with every expectation that all will follow suit, without prompting but from the sun.
In me there has always been a deep desire to mend broken things. I think, subconsciously I've sought after souls that need tending - always trying to keep the hands of my mercy busy with a project. I have every expectation that at my end, it will be said that my life's work centered on something to the effect of uplifting the downtrodden or nurturing the most fragile. I've only begun it, I know. I've always, always known that was God's purpose for me.
So, then, often I don't know what on earth to do with this oak tree! This man who found me when I was at MY most broken and needed much mending. The man who will stand silently, waiting for me to finish a fit, infuriating me with his poise, then will steady me with his big oak arms while I apologize for my behavior. And, although I've been years now in his presence, it has taken years to heal my own wounds enough to accept the permanency of his love and know that there are no hidden agendas or ulterior motives where oaks are concerned. 
No, there is no questioning this man. When he runs his fingers through my hair, smells the top of my head, or kisses me in a crowd, it is not habitual, it is because he loves me. Specifically, me. When he reaches for my hand in the middle of the night, it is not just for the sake of a hand to hold; It is MY hand he is reaching for. The gestures are not grandiose if measured against the world, but they are always genuine, heartfelt, and unconditional. He sees me in a way I think few have and he ever surprises me with his insight in to the self that I have always kept so guarded, having feared since childhood not living up to any given person's perception of who I was. But, fearing most, not living up to my own perception of who I SHOULD be. However, he really does see me - the good and the bad. Possibly that is the kindred "self" that we share that has allowed us to stand so perfectly together. Perhaps I am a bit of an oak, myself, when it is all said and done. 
All I know is the beat of my heart is steadied by this man. Although I looked so long for someone to make my heartbeat quicken, I realize this was what I needed all along. I just had to be molded enough to accept it. And sometimes I just look at him, with no words to express my gratitude for the blessing of having such profound love and security in my life. For the amazing feeling of having someone truly see my soul and love me for that alone. For the freedom to be myself and feel complete acceptance, maybe even adoration. For the hand to hold when it is dark.

But, sometimes, the words do come. Even if at three a.m. So, then, you have to write them down somewhere...

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Picture of Dads

At 20, when I became a mom, I had a very distinct picture in my mind of what a family should look like and what the mom/dad role should be. At 23, when I became a single mom, I had to let go of that picture. It took me a lot of years, though, to be okay with the new view of my life.
It probably wasn't until pretty recently that I truly came to terms with the different roles people play in my children's lives and that it's "okay" for those roles to not fit in the proverbial boxes I had planned out for them.
When I brought my son home from the hospital, it was to my mom and dad's house. My dad will always hold a place with Bub that no one else can.  For all intents and purposes, my Dad was the first real father figure in my son's life and you can never erase that. And as thankful as I always was for that, I also hated that it wasn't how I planned it to be!
I was angry for so long at my ex husband for not playing the "dad" role the way I wanted him to or felt that he should. I realize now that at 21 years old he had a hard time figuring out exactly how to all of the sudden be responsible for other people's lives. He barely had his own life in control. And when I remarried, I think the lines got blurred for him as to where exactly he fit in the picture anymore. After all, this wasn't how he'd imagined his life either! And if we're being honest, I think there was part of me that wanted to just erase those first chapters and start fresh - pretend that my first marriage didn't really exist. I never denied him access to the kids, but I didn't make a lot of effort to respect his role as a father to them. Our ability to communicate and see eye to eye did not improve post divorce. Funny how that works! 
I think I spent years being upset about things not going how I thought they should instead of being thankful for the tremendous amount of love and support my children have been blessed with!! 
My husband is a rock. He came in to our lives and never treated my oldest two kids like anything less than his own. He brought stability to our lives and gave my kids the security of knowing he would be here no matter what. He also has given my oldest two the amazing blessing of knowing what it means to be chosen by someone. To have a man get to know you and then choose to become your father and love you and take care of you for life has to be one of the most accurate pictures of love.  I've yet to meet a man I respect and admire more than my husband. He is big and quite threatening looking (which is nice in the feeling protected end of things) but when it comes to the people he loves, especially his girls, he's really a big softy. There's no one else in the world I'd rather my son take notes from on how to treat a woman. 
My ex husband brings a breath of fresh air to my two oldest children's lives. He's funny, affectionate, and always fun to be around. His free spiritedness was something that made it very hard for us to mesh in a marriage (given my tendencies towards extreme worry, analyzation, forethought, and over-thought) but serves him well in his rapport with his kids.  My husband and ex-husband may very well be polar opposites as far as personality, but it means that the kids get the best of both worlds. And although we went through a few years of customary post-divorce feuding, it feels nothing but normal for my ex in-laws to include my youngest in their family gatherings and invite her to sleep over with her big brother and sister. She's a little jealous that her older siblings have two dads instead of just one and an extra set of grandparents (who she also refers to as g-pa and g-ma, by-the-way!) I know my ex-husband and husband will never be best buds, but I have a lot if respect for them both when they swallow their pride and can do things like both be at birthday parties and both be referred to as Dad, either taking on or giving up roles and duties according to what's best for their kids. It's a rare thing, and I'm SO thankful my kids don't have the turmoil in their lives that many from split families do.
Then there is my dad. Pa-Pa. I've always adored him and I've never once had to question his love for me. He's filled in the gaps for my kids over the years and there sure have been gaps on the way to where we are now. He guides in such a quiet way - in the way you can only guide without words. I know he keeps my family covered in prayer. His life is a legacy he's leaving for his kids and grandkids, although he's very humble about the role he's played. Both my parents are. But over the years I've come to realize how blessed I am to know truly unconditional love. And, my children know it, too. From every angle!
For all the mistakes we make as parents, as humans really, if we can say we've shown our children what real love is and how to love others, then we've canceled out a lot of the bad. The failed marriages, the lost tempers, the things we look back on and wish we would have handled differently. Because "love covers a multitude of sins." And sometimes your love covers your own mistakes, sometimes it is covering someone else's. God has a plan for each of us and to watch that plan play out in your children's lives is amazing, albeit painful at times. But He has every detail planned out before we're even born. And we have to trust Him because He is the ultimate picture of what a father is: loving, consistent, corrective... Sometimes He has to give us more than one "Dad" in our lives to paint the right picture for us.   On this Fathers Day, I just want to say thank you to all the father figures in my life, and especially the lives of my children, for covering them with love. They couldn't be more blessed in that area.