Thursday, June 30, 2011
Thursday, June 23, 2011
I sat in the darkened room confused and disappointed. Granted, this was my first drug free birth, although not my first baby, but just because I wasn’t screaming and writhing in agony didn’t mean that I wasn’t in a lot of pain.
My husband was stretched out on the bed, peacefully snoring. I was flitting from chair to chair to bed trying to find a perch that was comfortable. FYI, no such place exists when you are nine months pregnant.
The pains increased but the time between them remained steady at about two minutes or so. I didn’t want to wake my husband up if there was nothing he could do; we had spent all of the previous night and early morning in the emergency room for one of our other children. We were all exhausted. As it got closer to 11 pm, I found myself increasingly paralyzed by the contractions. My stomach was queasy. If this WASN’T labor, something else was wrong so I shook my husband awake.
“Call the midwife,” I panted. “I feel so sick.” I motioned for the wastebasket and he got it to me just in time. Exhausted from the sleepless night and morning, the contractions and the vomiting, I dragged myself to the bathroom, while my husband nervously paced around calling the midwife who instructed him to call the birthing assistant.
Perched on the toilet, I could barely hear him, but I felt relief for the first time in hours. It seemed to me that for whatever reason, that position took away the pain. I sat in the cool darkness of the bathroom, eyes closed, breathing deeply, grateful for the reprieve.
My husband flew into the bathroom, phone in hand. “Get off the toilet, now!” he bellowed. I was startled but resolute. “No, this is a good spot for me,” I assured him.
“You have to get off!” he said frantically.
“I’m not moving,” I murmured. “This feels OK.”
“Get off the pot now!” he shouted, tugging on my arms to pull me up. I plopped down. “You are having the baby now!” he said.
I remember thinking, “I think I’d know if I was having a baby.” But to humor him and reassure myself, I reached down for a quick feel.
Sure enough there was what could only be, a head.
My husband pulled me up and tried to lead me to the bed. I could only make it a few steps before the overwhelming urge to push came over me.
“I can’t do it. And I have to push….”
My husband dropped to his knees, his hands outstretched. “I see her,” he said. “Push again.”
And there she was, so tiny, in his giant hands.
There we were. Me, him, and her.
There was no sound. The room was dim. Her eyes, as they are now three years later, huge. She looked at us, still having not uttered a sound.
I wanted to make sure she was breathing so I poked her. She let out single momentary wail. We grabbed the sheet from the bed to wrap her in and looked at each other in wonder as we waited for the midwife. I stepped over the cord still attached to me and sat on the bed next to my husband and our brand spanking new daughter. We barely spoke save for giddy nervous laughter and the occasional “wow.”
When the midwife arrived some ten minutes later, the place was aflutter with activity. Lights flipped on, she barked instructions to the birthing assistant and to me. My husband caught my eye and we locked in on each other.
This was not how we envisioned the birth of our child, but it was perfect. When I think back on that day, and I often do, the quiet envelops me. I see her serene precious face and the awe in my husband’s face. On that day, we were immersed in God’s splendor and fully present for his wonder.
immersed in God's splendor
Thursday, June 16, 2011
“We rarely do the suicide scene. It only works if we have an overly dramatic actress,” my brother in law said when I asked him which acting parts are available in our church drama. He wasn’t supportive of me auditioning for the play, but I knew this one was set up by a Heavenly Agent.
When I heard Reality Ministries was coming back to our church to put on the drama 'Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames' I trembled with excitement. I had always loved acting and was disappointed that my night shift job had kept me from being in the play the other times we did it. But this time I had a day job that would allow me to participate.
However less than a month before the production came to our church, I changed jobs and found myself back on the night shift with no promise of getting time off. So I prayed, “Lord, if You want me to do this as much as I want it, You’ll have to do something about the schedule.” Then I left it at that.
My first answer to prayer came when I ended up with a week of daytime orientation that happened to be during the exact week the drama was at our church. My evenings were free. So there I was reading lines for a part in the play. The directors took a lunch break and asked us to pray that they would cast the right people in the right parts. So we did.
After lunch they began handing out scripts, calling us by name. But each time they didn’t say my name, my heart sank a little deeper. “Lord, if all you want me to do is pray for the others I would be glad to do that. Sad, yes, but willing to…”
My second answer came as a voice broke through my silent prayer. “Pam, the suicide scene.” As the director handed me my script, I cringed, “Does that mean I am overly dramatic?”
I read the script to myself and threw it down. “Oh no, no way, I am NOT doing this scene,” I muttered. My heart pounded and my hands grew sweaty. The character was a lady who had become an alcoholic causing her husband to leave her for another woman. Desperate and broken, she rejected Jesus and pleaded for her husband to come back. When he wouldn’t she decided to let him live with the guilt of her suicide. This scene was much too familiar. It hit too close to home. Icouldn’t do it.
Nearly eleven years ago I had been rejected and abandoned by my husband. I had tried hard to deal with the hurt and anger on my own. I thought maybe I was over it all, but as I read the lines, that hurt and anger resurfaced and I wept. Ready to quit, a silent tugging at my heart caused me to persist. I knew my Heavenly Agent had picked exactly the right part for me, I just wasn’t sure why.
I soon found out. When I went onstage to perform, I became the woman in the play. I wasn’t me anymore but a character in a play.
As I screamed, cried and delivered my lines, something miraculous happened. A warm, soothing balm flowed over my aching heart as I recited the words on my script: “I don’t want Jesus, I want Mike back.” I instantly realized I no longer felt that way. I didn’t want the man who had hurt me; I wanted Jesus! Amazing. My heart didn’t hurt as much.
How could it be that in the eight minutes it took to perform my small part in a church drama that God would instantly heal a broken heart I had tried for 11 years to fix myself?
Simple: I prayed. God answered.
instantly heal a broken heart
Thursday, June 9, 2011
The quote above sums a lot of what my story is about and that is finding my passion in work. I still don’t know what I want to do. Well… if I were honest with myself, I probably do know. I just don’t feel at peace with it yet. I still can’t believe that I am suppose to be a teacher. Most people would say that this is noble profession and well-appreciated. On good days, I feel that way. On bad days I say to myself, “I could be making so much more money and still get the same amount of job satisfaction.”
I think I am a teacher because of a combination of my personality, my God-given gifts, and my environment. On good days, I am thankful that God made me who I am. I can’t imagine being anything else. On bad days, I wish I had the creative gifts to be an artist, jewelry designer, or even a gift shop owner. Those jobs just sound more fun to me. How cool would it be to wake up each day and create a necklace or painting? The problem - I lack the gifts and personality to make it happen successfully. Instead, God gave me humbleness, patience, understanding, empathy, knowledge-seeking, and problem-solving skills. Great, these are perfect for a teacher. So, why can’t I be at peace with this?
At the root of the problem is probably my upbringing. No, I am not going to blame my parents. They were fine. The problem is that I grew up the majority of my life in an upper-middle class neighborhood where people looked at houses, cars, and clothes. They were important and reflected status. We always belonged to a country club. My sisters and I knew how to behave in social settings. It was important to make a good impression. Parts of my family are still this way. I am not this way anymore. It creates too much drama and makes me discontent with what I do have. Also, being a teacher doesn’t allow for much of this.
How does this relate to me not knowing what I wanted to do when I grew up? Because I spent the majority of my young adulthood not focusing on what I was good at or trying to find what I was good at. Instead, I spent the majority of my time thinking, “What could give the most money? How can I maintain the lifestyle my mom and dad gave me?” Instead of taking liberal arts classes, I would take business classes. I hated them. I hated economics, finance, business math, and accounting. I hated going to school. I did poorly. Instead of saying to myself, “Hey, this isn’t your strength. You should reconsider.“ I said, “Hey, you are not very smart. You need to try harder.” At one point, I considered switching majors to education. My dad talked me out of it. He said that was a “Gee whiz” job. So, I stuck out business. I got my degree in Marketing and never used it.
During my last two years at college, I interned at General Motors. I did this during the summer. I made a lot of connections. Can you believe that when I graduated I never contacted them for a job!? I never ever contacted them. Why? At the time, I just said “I don’t want to move to Michigan.” Oh really, Michelle. You don’t want a well-paying job at a big company. I guess not. But, I thought I did. Isn’t that why I chose a business major? Isn’t that why I even wasted two summers interning? Now, I am not going to try and get a job there? What sense did that make? Wow - I was really screwed-up.
After college and for the next three years after that, I worked at the following places: a retail store, a downtown catering business, a hospice, a personnel company, and a software company. And guess what? I hated all of my jobs for one reason or another. I didn’t hate my job at the computer company as much as I was so VERY bored with it.
What finally changed? Two things happened in my life. I was commuting to work one day. I was stuck in Houston traffic on the way to work and I said to myself, “Why I am doing this? I don’t even want to go to work. It is meaningless and boring. I need a job that has more meaning to it. What could that be?” So, while I was stuck in traffic I began to play the “What job would I still want to do even if I won a million dollars?” The answer was teacher. The seed had been planted as well as another one. I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. It was time for me to figure this whole work thing out. I wanted to be settled so that I could care for her and be of sane mind. When I decided to just become a teacher, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace inside. After Alexis was born, I went back to school. It was a program for people who already had degrees but wanted to be a teacher. It was called An Alternative Certification Program. After one year of course work, I was able to get a job being a teacher. I still had to finish a year of teaching so I was on a probationary period where I still had to met regularly with the school professor.
The problem was that I started my teaching career in the hardest of all possible schools. I didn’t even have a chance to catch my breath before I was dealing with problems and issues that I didn’t even know existed. It was tough to say the very least. After three years, I had to leave the school; too much heartache and drama. The next 4 years have been better, much better. Without me realizing it, I have become a language arts guru. I didn’t plan on this. I never woke up and said, “Hey, I see this need and I am going to fill it.” I just did what was required of me and somehow, BAMM, I am considered the one to go to for language arts.
One would think this would be the end of my story, I have a job that allows me to spend time with my husband and daughter. I get to see my daughter everyday at school and have all holidays off with her. I get to go to Michigan to see my family each summer. But, guess what? I am still not at peace with it. I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to accept that this is my life’s work. It seems too easy. But, it hasn’t been. It’s meaningful. Yes, but the pay is smaller than I’d like and sometimes the parents and students are disrespectful. But, the kids love you and your daughter loves having you at school with her. Yes, but next year, my raise will be $200.00 and I am taking on more duties. How am I going to afford to fix up the backyard? You get to see your sisters and mom every summer for two weeks! Yes, but today Johnny was so difficult to deal with…And the thoughts in my head go on and on and on…
find your lifework
Monday, June 6, 2011
Thursday, June 2, 2011
We took our places and took a deep breath as we began our ceremony. I heard the words being said as if they were raining down upon me from the sky. I stared off in the distance at the Williams Tower and the sky as I tried to take in the moment hoping I would never forget what I am seeing and feeling at this moment as long as I shall live.
The love that we share knows no bounds. Saying “I love you” never will do our feelings true justice.
Together we will make history as our hearts beat as one. Living, laughing and enjoying our lives is our priority.
As we continue to love each other forever, our love is our “Infinity.”
Alton and Jeanne
November 13, 2010
happiness is ours to have; we got this!