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Monthly Archives: October 2009

Memories

“Nothing prevents happiness like the memory of happiness.”

Andre Gide

My husband is constantly annoyed by my excessive camera operation.  Seriously, when we go somewhere, I constantly hear, “why did you have to bring that thing?” or “Can you just put that away now?”.  Finally, after a recent discussion about the intensity of my hobby, he asked me what I get from taking a great photograph.  What is it that makes me feel naked if I go somewhere without a camera?  My husband loves to play video games.  He loves the thrill of competition, the accomplishment of winning.  He loves the challenge.  Yes, I love the challenge of putting together a good photo or, at the very least, capturing it by happenstance.  I love the thrill.  I love that feeling I get when I am pleased with my work and others are too.  But that’s not the point.  All of those feelings are fleeting.

You know what I love the most about taking pictures?  The memories.  I have a horrible memory.  I don’t remember what my first baby was like when she was a baby.  I don’t remember movies until I’ve watched them at least three or four times.  Sometimes, I honestly can’t remember what I did yesterday.  In school I found myself memorizing a lot (as I’m sure a lot of you did as well), but the stuff I was supposed to soak up and remember took so much more effort than it did for my friends.  My husband can read a book, watch a movie, or see an event and remember almost every detail.  I simply can’t.

The fear that overtakes me when I realize I can’t remember something can be paralyzing at best.  How devastating it will be one day if I can’t remember anyone or anything at all!  I will have no pain or fear, but I will have no joy either.  I want to know what my life was like.  I want to remember the things we have done and the things we do.  I want to remember what my children look like at every stage of their lives. I want to remember my husband, my family.

When I was younger, I journaled quite a bit.  Sometimes I still do.  However, I have found that a picture really does speak a thousand words.  It saves me time.  It is a visual that keeps my memory alive.  My dad takes lots of pictures.  He always has.  I’m so thankful for the lines and lines of photo albums that sit upon his bookshelves.  I can go to them any time I want and remember.  I want my pictures to rustle up the leaves of my memory that have blown away and to stir the emotions that I maybe once forgot.  My photos are certainly not the greatest, and they may never be great, but they will accomplish their purpose.

In answering my husband’s question….well, when I have a camera in my hands, the whole world gets kind of quiet,  and for one very brief moment I am still while the world is moving.  My troubles melt away, and my focus becomes less about the troubles in my world and more about the preservation of one perfect moment….over and over again.

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29 Years Ago in 1980…

A year ago today I awoke on a cot in the back room of my parents’ small house.  I had (and our two girls) moved away from my husband into a house only a mile or so away from my parents. We were solely provided for by them. We had packed up the day before and brought everything down here in the dark to this empty house. But on this day, we moved in. My husband was left in a pretty empty two floor apartment with no job, no money, no transportation, and not much food.  There was a reason, but it didn’t matter.  It was a very sad, heart wrenching day.  My husband and I were separated on my birthday.

On this day in 2006, my husband, first daughter, and I went to my OB for that special ultrasound appointment…the one that was to tell us whether we were having a girl or a boy. It was an exciting day! We were excited. As we watched the ultrasound technician do her scan and take her pictures, imminent doom clouded the room.  The doctor took forever to come.  She brought tissues.   On my birthday in 2006, we found out that we were having a baby boy, that he was dying, and that I could die too if we didn’t terminate the pregnancy.  We named our baby Sebastian David.  I gave birth to him 2 weeks later at 19 and a bit weeks pregnant.

On this day in 1980, I was born.  I made two people fairly happy…at least for the first 12 years of life.  Then I became a teenager.  ;-)  I was born healthy and my birth was non-traumatic.  My mom had no epidural and says that the pain wasn’t that bad.  I personally believe that she’s just forgotten how bad it really was!

Today, on my birthday, my husband and I have reunited as a couple and our family is together.  He is no longer in a homeless shelter or jobless.  Our children have a father, a real father who sacrifices for them every day.  He loves them, plays with them, talks with them, teaches them, bathes them, adores them.  And I have a husband again, a real husband who works hard and endures our poorness so I can stay home with our children, who humors me by taking us places and doing things with our family that he might not particularly like.  On my birthday I don’t have to sleep in the bed alone.  I have more people to cook for, more people to care for.  I won’t have to dread Thanksgiving, Christmas or my daughters’ birthdays because we are a family now and we will get to go through those things together.  Our family is far from perfect, and my husband and I still have a long way to go before we can say our marriage is great, but I can say that life is 150% better than it was this time last year.

Our house is filled with shrilly screams of sweet little girls and pitter pattering feet, with discussions of work, school, life, and religion.  It’s filled with the smells of dinner and fabric softener, with smelly work boots, and Pine Sol. From our screened in patio, you can hear music booming, daddy and children laughing, and lots of loud noises.  I hope these changes stay forever.  I hope the rain has stopped pouring and that the sun will be out for at least a little while.  After all, it is my birthday.

1980 Liz-1

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A Weighty Issue

So I wanted a better title than this…something a little less cliche, but I couldn’t think of one so I stuck with this one. In light of my quick trip to the grocery store just moments ago, I felt the desire to tackle this touchy subject.

I’ve battled weight for as long as I can remember, which, to me, is all my life. And when I wasn’t, I should have been, if you know what I mean. I know my parents didn’t feed me horribly when I was a child. They didn’t let me gorge on sweets, desserts, and other horrible foods. We ate rather sensibly, though we ate out quite often since my mom and dad worked a lot and often long hours. I was an active child and teenager though. I took dance. I played tag and hide and seek, and I was on the swimteam.  I even did track in highschool.

I’ve always been the big girl, the one everyone says has a beautiful face. And I’ve always had a love affair with food. It’s taken me many many years to come to terms with my body – it’s shape, what I can change, and what I can’t. I don’t love it, but I certainly don’t hate myself because of it as I once did. I have to work harder and longer and have to restrict myself more than many others. Or do I?

As I was walking through the grocery store this evening for simple items such as milk and eggs, I watched the other people shopping, meandering through the store, and I wondered if they, too, battled with themselves to not (or to) buy certain items as they passed them. In a 5 minute shopping trip I battled buying cupcakes, yummy smelling fresh baked bread, Lindt chocolates, ice cream, some new kind of pudding cups, and cheese doodles. As I walked out of the store, having once again fought the temptation to buy what I ought not, I thought this continuous process can not possibly be normal. Do many women have this same battle? Thin women? Does it consume them? Is it a constant battle and struggle to watch what they eat, exercise, lose weight and/or maintain? Is this my destiny – to constantly battle this desire to eat wonderful foods to excess? Is it like the alcoholic who may always battle the urge to buy another drink or the drug addict who will always struggle with the desire to once again take drugs?

When I was in highschool, it was easier.  I was on the track team.  I could eat what I wanted as long as I ran my 3-4 (or more) miles per day.  But now, three children later, it’s not so easy.  My body is different, but my desire for food is not.  When I see women who are bigger than me, I wonder what circumstances brought them to that size.  When I see women who are smaller than me, I often wonder if they can gorge on what they like mindlessly or if they, too, maybe have the same issues as me and the other larger women.  Is it an unspoken language of struggle? Or is it all in my head?

Right now, my desire to lose the weight, be healthy and thinner is stronger than my desire for food.  I’m just wondering how long my desire will hold out….just like the alcoholic or the drug addict.  When will I decide that food is better than health?  Or will I ever decide?  There must be a way for me to continue to have both the foods that I love and gain the body that I want.  I guess I’ll keep exercising and eating until I figure it out.

“I know a man who gave up smoking, drinking, sex, and rich food. He was healthy right up to the day he killed himself.”

Johnny Carson

Good Grief!!

In light of the death of a friend’s baby, I have been contemplating the grief the mother and family, and even surrounding friends, are feeling. It has brought anew the grief I haven’t felt for a while for my own lost baby.

When someone grieves something – really grieves, it’s hard to imagine anyone else could possibly feel the same thing….that utterly earth-shattering pain, pain that literally makes your heart feel like it will stop, an ache so great that absolutely nothing in this world can compare…nothing. It’s a grief that will make you double over. It will take your breath away for days at a time. It will make you cry dry tears. And worst of all, that feeling that you can’t make it go away. There is no pain reliever. There is no cure. It must be endured. This is the kind of grief I speak of. At the time, you think it’s horrible, wretched even. It’s worse than any physical pain. But the scars run deeper than any physical pain ever could.

I’ve been through this kind of grief on more than one occasion in my life. Each time, I’m convinced that God is a mean, horrible God for allowing such feelings…until the pain and grief subsides and I think, ‘I made it.  It ended.’  But this week, I’ve considered.  What does grieving give me that’s NOT painful?  What do we as a people get out of this process?  Peace? Sometimes.  Not really in my case.  I think we get the blessing of a strengthened character, a story to encourage others with, a testimony to share with the world.  We have fears subside even in some ways.  If you’re a woman reading this, you may know what childbirth is like.  You may have been fearful with the first child of what the pain was going to entail.  Now that you’re through it you, at the very least, know what to expect the next time (if there is a next time).  When we are put through trials that cause this extreme grief, it is the same.  We, at the very least, can know what to expect the next time…except we hope there isn’t a next time.  We can also know that there is a light at the end.  It will end, or at least subside to a point where you can function.  We are left with a testimony of some sort – a testimony of God’s provision, a testimony of people’s love, a testimony of healing, of making it through.  We are able to encourage others with our experiences.  We are able to better help them because we really DO know what they are feeling.  And we are able to do it anywhere, with anyone, in any country because grief speaks the same language everywhere.  We are granted more compassion and more love for those enduring the same or similar situations.  We are better able to help them through than someone who may not have experienced the same thing.

Grief is good.  It’s a blessing.  I don’t wish it on anyone, but I know – from experience – that I was made stronger, more compassionate, more loving, and better able to withstand pain in my life due to my experiences with grief.  My song is louder.  My heart is more prepared.  I made it through.  We are getting a lot out of grieving whether we know it or not at the time.  I am heartbroken for my friends.  I am pained for their loss.  I am more pained because I know what that feeling is of losing a child.  But I also know that they will not die from their broken hearts.  They will endure, and their testimony will be even stronger, their love even bigger, and their compassion even greater.

We were promised sufferings.  They were part of the program.  We were even told, “Blessed are they that mourn.”  – C.S. Lewis

He will heal the broken-hearted and bind up their wounds.  – Psalm 147:3

While we are mourning the loss of our friend, others are rejoicing to meet him behind the veil.  – John Taylor

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