Saturday, April 5, 2014

The End of the Week

Adrian, I'm sorry. When the door opened suddenly at church and hit you, I hurriedly moved you back out of the way and instantly reassured the person who opened it that everything was fine, that you were okay. Then I saw out of the corner of my eye how you moved close to Miss Ashley, who picked you up in her arms and comforted you. She's great, by the way. I know she cares a lot about you. But I felt like I failed you. Also, forgive me for being Ms. Crazy when I'm trying to school Angelica and keep Ceci from scribbling all over her work, and also getting the morning dishes cleaned up before I even see you. Wandering around the living room, quietly trying to stay out of the way. You're such a good kid and my heart just years to give you the attention that you, my middle child, so keenly deserves.

Being so sick this past week didn't help things in my little world. Being mildly sick, or just beat down, for several weeks has been such a challenge. I probably abuse the word, but being an introvert and not getting enough quiet time to reflect has been soul-quenching of late. Rushing between the kids and homeschooling and being neither here nor there some days, and then teaching night after night with an endless amount of assignments to be graded and classes to be planned is what was happening on the outside. On the inside I felt myself slowly shutting down.  A steady stream of needs, needs, and more needs and then all the needing-to dos. I just can't do it all.

Ceci, I'm sorry too. When you cry and cry in your crib (is it because you really don't need the nap? or because you really want to be out in the action with your siblings?) sometimes I just can't bear it. I know I leave you in there too long. But I have to get away, just for a few minutes. Just to get a little peace in my head and relief from my body that just aches and aches.

My husband gets home at four, and I look into his face with eyes of relief. Relief, that I am getting away from the needs and able to escape to my office at work for at least a half hour before going into the classroom. But then there is a needy student, outside my office door. Feeling the urgency to fully communicate in no uncertain terms how difficult my course is for her.

What do I say to that? I try to respond but feel so defeated.

Thursday finally arrives, my last night teaching of the week. The sinus pressure I feel is unbearable by the time my eyes of relief meet his, and I am on the verge of losing it between 'shifts'. I am too weak to care for my kids. They amuse themselves while I use a hot compress to ease the discomfort. I leave for school, thinking of the things that need to be done, that I have no energy to do. But who else can do them? I alone am the one. I alone am the mom by day, and I alone am in front of the students by night. God, why do I have to go through this?

Ah, Angelica. Math is important, but our relationship is more important came tumbling out of me when I got so frustrated that you couldn't remember how to add plus nine and plus eight problems that morning. I got so mad again because 'we've done this already' and you've practiced 'so many times' that I seem to forget that math was my worst subject in school. Just ask Uncle Keith who had to be my tutor. You deserve more grace and I intend to keep the above slogan in my heart. You may need to remind me sometimes. You're such a gift, and I'm sorry that I fail you sometimes.

I am distracted by these thoughts and worn down by it all but my answer comes that night by way of another needy student, this time a hurting one. Bedraggled and eagerly awaiting the silence that comes when the final student turns in the exam, I wait for it to be all over for the week. I don't want to deal with this again, since Student #1 had left me so bewildered just days before. Yet I know that I must confront this uncomfortable situation. I entertain the idea of just leaving it alone, leaving it for another day. But sighing inwardly, I know I must get it over with. I approach her about her absences. She starts to explain. It's getting personal. We go out in the hall, and suddenly she is opening her heart and bearing all to me. In a normal situation I know I would probably force the conversation along, and try to get back to the Teacher and Syllabus stance. I started there, but was too weak to continue in it as she kept telling me more and more. Physical pain, emotional pain, lack of motivation to keep up with the responsibilities of life. She expressed in her words what I was going through this difficult, trying semester. She is weak; I am weak. It was an equal playing field, suddenly. And I looked into her deep, brown eyes and saw...a daughter. It could have been you, Angelica. It wasn't, but she was so vulnerable. And I held her glance, and I tried to speak life into her, a la Toby Mac. Life, affirming life, in the midst of self-defeat and discouragement. Be kind to yourself was one thing that God spoke through me to say to her.

And I think He is whispering it to me as well. You know, I keep trying. I haven't given up yet.  On the home front, there is love between you kids that I believe is fostered by having you together for now. It's a beautiful thing to behold, so one day I hope to look back and say "It was worth it to homeschool you during those years. Look how you blossomed; look how you became best friends in spite of my failures." And work will always bring challenges, and well, work. Yet, I think the student who confronted me about the difficulty of my course, didn't she and I laugh together in class by the end of the week? Didn't she rejoice at the "A" she got on the last quiz? At the end of this school year I want to be able to say I did the best that I could which sometimes just means being courageous enough to be present in the moment.  Hugging you, my precious ones at home and being there at school if needed.

Mostly I'm just thankful for this moment of quiet to actually reflect upon it all.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Age or Life?

My eyes lingered on the Dr. Seuss-inspired birthday card from Adrian's last birthday, You're 2! One fish, Two fish, Red fish, Blue fish...Hope you get each big wish YOU wish! I had found it tucked away on a bookshelf, and put it back on display for a while. Tonight my eyes caught on the bright colors reminiscent of the book itself, and I thought a bit ruefully that my birthday is tomorrow, and I would not like a card to yell 'You're 35!' at me, thank you very much.

I suffer from a bit of birthday-induced depression. I realize that this sounds really trite, really I do. Generally I hear that chorus "It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to" in my head. Two years ago I sat outside on the patio and really did cry my eyes out, and I'm not really sure why. I think I remember being in the car on my mom's 40th birthday and she was crying. Or maybe just the song was playing on the radio, I'm not sure. I thought that the whole thing was bizarre back then, I mean first of all who cries on their birthday? It should happy, period. And also back then 40 really did seem old. I mean, o-l-d to a kid barely reaching double digits herself.

I imagine a friend and neighbor of mine rolling her eyes and going "35? You think that's old?! Wait until you hit 50".  Then I think of another dear former neighbor, whom we recently visited in the assisted living home that she shares with her husband. This was just a few nights ago, when Angelica walked up to the chair she was sitting in, hands shaking a bit in her lap from the Parkinson's disease that distresses her more and more, and asked "How old are you, Miss June?" Eight-nine, she replied. It breaks my heart a little now, knowing that after Angelica replied "Wow, you are old" that I left it at that. You know, as in kids will tell it as it is, right? It was a teaching moment that went untaught.

I realized tonight after seeing the You're 2! birthday card that if it could talk, it would probably shout something like You're thirty-what? That's old! and what could I say back to that? I mean, that's true. But what could you, card, possibly know about what that means in my heart? The fact that for the last five of those thirties, I have been growing, feeding and nurturing children. Three of them, that have come to me from heaven above. That  (when I am focusing on the years and age itself) make me feel like I have done nothing else in that time. And yet, what could possibly be of more worth? I have to remind myself. When I get in that spot, that little spot deep inside of wanting it all to be about me. Of wanting to crawl inside of that place of wanting and wishing for the things I feel like I somehow deserve or should have "by now". And that's just the last five years. And oh, how does the time fly as they will always keep telling you.

I remember Miss June and I hurt because I know that Angelica's comment had to have pierced her own heart. Yes, she's old? That's what I thought? Who could possibly put pen and paper to the moments and feelings of a life of such proportion? How could I even think in terms of years? Life is meant to be lived big, for something more than just for oneself, and Miss June is the illustration of a life beautifully lived for others, for her God. Age has nothing to do with Miss June. Grace is Miss June. I can talk to her and feel the years disappear between us. It's uncanny. I remember her talking about teaching in a one-room schoolhouse years ago. Or the fact that having her mother across the alley helped her from losing it when she was raising her young son. Or that sometimes it's hard to connect with people in a new church, a new town, or a new living situation. That even assisted-living homes have their cliques and barriers that make it hard to get to know people. But Miss June presses through those things. No one that meets her is left the same, untouched by her love. While sitting in the cafeteria next to an elderly resident, she was asked "Do you ever think about suicide?" to which she responded "I don't think God would be very pleased with that decision" and the woman's countenance changed completely. Apparently, she hadn't thought about it that way. Miss June can nudge you toward a better way, the better way.

When I let it, my age can take on a life of itself and yet, the number does not tell what is in the heart and the way those years have shaped it. Whether it's a two and a half year old loving to chase birds and make faces to crack us all up in the car or in the living room or thirty-five years old living life as a mother through the boredom, intensity and all-out-joy of the moment to moment or of eighty-nine years polished and loving, loving, loving with eyes focused on the goal of going home. As she put it. And there's no doubt in my mind that on that day she will be received with a glowing
Well done, my good and faithful servant by her precious savior.

I rejoice and ache for her, as  I will miss her when that day comes. However I am so glad that she's taught that me that life that has nothing to do with age. It would be well-worth my while to remember that lesson tomorrow and always. And pass it on to my precious little ones.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The list

There is one activity that I really like to do with Angelica. I have always read to her, since she was a baby. And lest it sound like I'm bragging about that, let me just say that I started reading to her at such a ripe age as young babyhood because I had absolutely no idea what else to do with an infant. I mean, I wasn't even good at talking to her. I'd stare into her big, brown eyes and think "What do I say?" So, in order to not feel like a complete new-mother-idiot, I'd plop her down on my bed with a stack of baby books. And I'd read, to her, over and over again. I think basically "having a script" made me feel at ease with my own baby. Not to mention that reading has always been relaxing to me and as natural as breathing.

So we still read, and now that she's older it's become much more interactive and entertaining for us both, in most cases. And I still get that instant feeling of relaxation after we open the cover and she burrows down into my lap to get comfortable...and still. I love an activity that quiets her down. And I breathe in deep her smell of shampoo and fresh clothing, and treasure holding her little hand or rubbing her back.

Because, to be quite honest, I don't really like the "activities" where I have to actively participate, like playing the angel telling Mary that she's going to have a baby. We've been acting out the Christmas story--sometimes more and sometimes less elaborately--even since we stumbled upon an online video of a group of kids acting it out amazingly and she was spellbound. It sounds so sweet, and it is...but I have to cringe a little when I hear her say ¡Yo soy MarĂ­a! (I'm Mary) and go get her head covering, like the girl from the video, and her baby doll to stick up her shirt. Sometimes I now insist that I'm Joseph (who doesn't have lines) and not the angel (who seems to have a ton of lines, even though it's probably only a total of about 25 words, or so) so I can invent a way out of the "I'm Joseph and I'm going off to get food for Mary and the baby. In the kitchen. So don't bother me while I cook".

Sometimes I even feel pretty sorry for myself at those moments, like Can I ever catch a break? Could I ever just have five minutes of peace?!

They say you never really fully appreciate what your parents did for you until you become a parent, and this point was finally really brought home to me today. Home indeed, since I stared wide-eyed and giggling at the following words, at the exact same spot where I wrote them some 20+ years ago--the home where I grew up:

What do you have to do ? Just sit and watch golf and commercials? Wouldn't you love to do something with your daughter...(Don't take her for granted!)

If that wasn't enough for my chagrined mother-self looking back, of course I had to sign off as Miss Bored...

A letter! I wrote my mom a letter, when I was ten years old--basically accusing her of watching soaps and eating bonbons--and she actually wrote me back! I can't see myself doing that anytime soon, so I guess it's good that Angelica doesn't know how to spell or write letters least ones that don't include a bunch of stick figures and smiling suns. In fact, the correspondence went back and forth for over three full pages...and finally ended after I invented a code for each letter of the alphabet, and suggested we write in code (after responding to her question if we were still friends in the following way: "Friends? Well we might be Mother-Daughter friends--maybe.") So that was the end of that, I thought. Until I looked closer and realized that my mom actually had been the last one to respond after all. She had read my "coded" message and "translated it" into: "Be nice!!!!! Ok? Miss Bored. Respond".

But I think what got me the most was the list. After several requests on my part, including no short order of piles of guilt (If Miss Bored happened to get deadly sick, and you couldn't spend much time with her would you look back at this day and think "Wow how foolish I've been. I wish I would of spent more time with her when I could"). My mother was not only gracious enough to look past my grammatical mistakes and the absurdity of the guilt plea, but in addition to that she tried to let me down easily, insisting in the fact that she loved me, but didn't want to play at that moment (even though, really, wasn't she doing just that by engaging in the letter-writing process?!) because of what she had already done with me that day.

And here's the list:
1) fixed your hair
2.) let you have a piece of candy after breakfast
3.) bought you a momma kitty and kitten (not sure about this one: we had cats all throughout my childhood, but I tend to think that maybe these were of the stuffed sort?! I better ask)
4.) didn't make you pay me back
5.) played the ABC game in the car
6.) played the number game in the car--twice
7.) played the spelling game in the car--about ten times
8.) played the I-spy game in the car--four times
9.) let you have a cupcake
10.) I played checkers with you
11.) Wrote this silly note! (Oh, at least she acknowledges it!)

Talk about being put in your place! Funny, how I never had imagined myself at that age as so...demanding. And how I instantly related to my mom while I read it, and was truly touched by her unassuming acts of love. Going back to the present, I think I will always love our own "quiet" activities best, I think as a mother to Angelica. Yet, who better than my own mother to teach me, in a letter salvaged from the past, how those every day untold acts of love and unselfishness are the quiet legacies of our mother-daughter bonds.

And even more humbling is to see how as a grandmother, she's still pouring out that gift of love and attention to my babies.

Click here to watch the Christmas Story video that made such a hit at our house from New Zealand:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

She's a survivor

I recently read a blog post by Heather Von St. James, a survivor of mesothelioma cancer, and it literally gave me chills. What an inspiration she is! I can just imagine the kind of poised, intelligent, and empathetic little girl her six-year old Lily must be to have Heather as her champion mom. Take a minute and be inspired yourself--you can find her story at:

We often have to dig deep to find our best selves in the midst of every day challenges and disappointments. Yet Heather's story shows a level of courage, due to how she's decided to live out her own story, that makes you sit at attention and want to get on board of this adventure called life! Thanks for sharing, Heather. God bless you, your health, and your family.

Friday, October 28, 2011

My Halloween Story

I didn't want to write about Halloween.

This year, I thought I had made it. For the first time since Angelica was born, our fourth October together, I thought I had finally gotten through an October without being questioned several times what she would be for Halloween, without having an answer. This year, I would try to ignore the 'mama fea' (ugly mama, as she calls it) witch that comes out each fall to rise and fall with the autumn wind from a neighbor's tree not far from us, even though it would yet again ignite her imagination, provoke questions, and harass her dreams. I would politely decline invitations to children's parties, and I would simply not take her to school on the day of THE party. I would smile at all the other children's costumes--which I honestly do think are adorable-- on the babies and young ones. I would patiently endure the songs, stories, and projects done with holiday ferver the weeks leading up to the day at school, at the library, etc. I would remind myself that it's all done in good fun, and there's no harm in that, right? I thought I was coasting. Don't make waves. Don't make a big deal out of it.

You see, for years while I was growing up, we truly didn't make a big deal out of it. We didn't 'keep' Halloween. We didn't keep a lot of holidays, within the church where I grew up, and I was pretty used to getting called out of school on the days of parties of what we considered, pagan holidays. Plural. I would often fantasize about what holiday I would choose to 'keep' if I could...Christmas for the pretty lights and all the presents? Easter for the candy and easter egg hunts? Halloween for its candy and getting all dressed up? Round and round it would go in my head, but I never really came to a good conclusion. I guess I did feel pretty bummed each Halloween to not get the loot of candy that my peers did. And for not being able to get dressed up and go to the party. But I got used to what we did do, instead.

My mom, my dad, my older brother and I would sneak upstairs when it got dark on the last night of October. Back then, we had filmstrips. We'd turn off the lights, and sit back and enjoy the colorful images that would appear very large on the walls. We wouldn't even have to be quiet, since we were far away from the main door and therefore, no one would know we would home! Those silly trick-or-treaters would have to go on to the next door and be for candy. It was a splendid game of hide and seek, and we weren't to be found. We also made sure to keep our black cat indoors and safe from mischief. Looking back, it became a fond family tradition. I marvel at the fact that in each place I've lived as an adult, I've never had a trick or treater come to my door (Mexico, apartments, now our condo). If I knew they were coming now, what would I do? Would I face them with a half-hearted spirit and a bag of mini snicker bars? Or would I turn off the lights and hide again?

I was so close this year to sailing through, but the last week caught me by surprise in my angst. As it got closer and closer to the date, I felt myself starting to free fall again, into my fears of dealing with it all. Without even being conscious of it, I suddenly realized that this year I continue my childhood tradition by taking Angelica out of school the day of her party. I also chose not to take her to the big library party, which pained me. My husband and I rationalize--his being from Mexico means that Halloween means nothing to him, except a creepy kind of celebration--since she's three, this is probably the last year we can get away with it. Before she begs to go. Before she insists on being there. Before she realizes that she's missing out, like I did all those years before. I relish this one last year, where she's content to go and do as mommy says.

Even so, I know it's futile. I think we're doing a pretty good job at ignoring it, pretending it's not really there, while at the same time, she's really taking it all in, in her extremely perceptive, child way. She tells her beloved storytime librarian, after singing Halloween themed songs and listening to Halloween stories midway through the month, "My mommy and daddy don't like Halloween". Ten days away, we go to see a puppet show, the classic Hansel and Gretel. I'm delighted as she is completely engrossed in the story, until a quiet dread comes upon me. There is a witch in this story. And not even a fun, friendly one that smiles and sings. No, a wicked one that is scary-looking and fully intends to harm children. My worst fears for her, to be exposed to the dark side of this holiday, are all culminating in front of my eyes and there is nothing that I can do, but wait. How will she react? What will she say?

She says nothing, but sits wide-eyed and completely wrapped up in the story. After the show, she insists on going behind the scenes to see the puppets. She loves Gretel, and strokes her long braids. The witch is offered to her, but she ignores her. I think that all is well, she has learned to ignore it like her mother.

However, not even hours later, the questions start. "Why, Mama? Why is the witch so ugly? Why is she there?"

What can I tell her? It is a question I cannot answer myself. It symbolizes my entire childhood dilema. Why is it there, in front of me? I can do nothing about it but wish I could have some of its--in this case--tempting gingerbread house that not even Hansel could not resist...

I don't like Halloween because for me it's too real. Witches are wicked to me, ghosts are scary. I can't make them playful or fun.

So at 3:00 in the morning after seeing the show, she cries out for me because she's had a nightmare. She insists on going to the bathroom, so as she sits on the toilet, she asks me again. "Why, mama? Why is there a witch?"

I have nothing; I look into her big, probing eyes. God, I say, inwardly. Give me an answer, because I don't have anything. Before I know where it's coming from, it comes pouring out.

"Well, sweetie..." I begin, "remember Gretel? And how good she was?"


"And how her brother Hansel made a mistake? He ate the candy from the witch's house, because he couldn't help himself. He didn't mean to. We all make mistakes, like Hansel. But Gretel loved him anyway, and protected him. Like you protect your little brother, Adrian."

She nods in agreement.

"Gretel loved him no matter what, like God...Jesus. You know?"

"Sometimes bad things happen to us, like when we're scared in the dark after a bad dream, or when we get sick. Those things happen, we can think of them like the witch. We don't like the witch, she's bad. But remember what happened to the witch?" I hesitate, am I really going to say it? It's what she saw already in the show, I rationalize.

"Gretel threw her in the oven. Do you know what that means?"

She's completely tracking with me now. Thank you, Jesus, I think. I can get through this.

"It means that no matter what, Jesus--like Gretel--is going to beat the bad, the witch. The witch was all gone at the end, right?"

"Yes, mommy! The witch was gone, but what about the mama fea? What about that witch?"

I pause. What can we do with the neighborhood witch that has harassed her by its mere proximity to her safe, beloved home base each October? The mother lioness comes out in me: "Well, we can throw her in the oven, too!"

I'm relieved to think that she doesn't have the same mental imagery of throwing someone into an oven as I do. And I'm grateful that the explanation seemed to seal a well of uncertainty and fear that was creeping up into her heart. I know that we'll probably always struggle as a family with what to do with Halloween. Yet that late-night conclusion--we'll throw 'er in the oven--gave me new strength to forge on, and realize that it's okay for us to not 'keep' Halloween like everyone else. I may let her go to the parties, dress up, and pig out on candy in the future, who knows. I may let her find her own path in all of this, and not force my ways on her.

But I will do it as openly and honestly as I know how. She deserves to know my reasons, my story. I will tell her my story, and I hope that we'll keep slaying witches and throwing them in oven as we muddle through each October together.

3 more days, and it will be over once again!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Learning to let it fall down

There is no good time to read student evaluations of your teaching.

Who would have known? Well, I could have told you the fomer back during the first year I was teaching and held that treacherous pile of critiques in its manila envelope. The truth that really surprised me was not the truth itself, but rather who spoke it. I was running late... as teach my afternoon classes when I ran into a colleague I hadn't seen in some time. She and I had always been friendly, but to be perfectly honest, she's intimidating. She is a balance of confidence and grace. Intellect and poice, humor and selflessness. Admitedly I took my time getting out of my car to face her in the parking lot, secretly hoping she'd just offer a smile and a wave--being what I would do to get out of almost any conversation that might make me slightly uncomfortable--and be on her merry way, so that I could skirt off to my office before class. But, no. She waited as I fumbled for my Mcdonald's bag of trash from the morning's coffee to throw away and my stack of books. Animatedly, we talked about school, classes, taking care of ourselves in the meantime (quick, hide that bag!) a little about our lives. And then, the comment: "There is absolutely no good time to read your student evaluations."

I am intimidated easily, and especially with my colleages at the university, most of whom hold degrees higher than I do (which is a huge deal in Academia). Yet the fact that someone who I see as so confident, so incredibly smart, and so...together... would speak that truth, my truth was truly liberating. You see, even when we put on a good front and act like things don't matter, sometimes they do. I am secretly scared silly to open that envelope, semester after semester, year after year, just waiting for the one comment that will be seared in my brain to prove that I'm Not. Good. Enough.

Ironically enough, that comment generally comes from a disgruntled individual who probably missed two weeks of classes or had a predisposition to hate the subject I teach from the time he or she relunctantly was advised to add my course to his or her schedule.

Or maybe it doesn't. Perhaps it comes from someone who really loved learning languages until they took my class. And something about the way I taught it turned them away and soured them on the subject for life. But, really, who cares?

The point is still the same: I can be leveled to feeling inadequate in mere seconds by a comment written by a person whose intent was to learn from me. The student is not greater than the master. Why should I let the student have such a hold on me? Or on my colleague? And perhaps, on dozens and dozens of instructors, or any other workers, mentors who are judged and evaluated by those who work for them..?

We want to be liked. We want approval. We act like it doesn't matter, but it does. But when we realize that those whom we hold in such esteem also feel what we do, well...again, it levels things in a whole new way.

It makes me remember that intimidation is just another wall for me to hide behind, and that just one single moment of open honesty was enough to make me feel emboldened today. And also humbled. The student may not be greater than the teacher, but I learn a whole lot from him or her when I let me guard down. When I stop trying so hard to be liked and approved of, but rather to just share and give what I have. And also to be open to listen to the other points of view that my students may have to say on a matter, or to do a brainstorming activity, or however else to show them that they also have intelligent imput.

It's good to be liked, but it's even better to just be me. At the end of the day I can show by example that intimidation is a wall of smoke that keeps us isolated from others when we--or they--may have something to give that will enrich because it is so, completely real.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Self-Pity Pool

We were drowning in twins plus Doug. It sounded like the name of a new family reality TV show, but I laughed when my friend described one of her first vacations when she and her husband had to juggle the toddler boys and her older stepson without any help on a city bus. The mental picture made me laugh, but really only out of recognition. My version lately is that I'm drowning in late summer bedtimes (of my three-year old) and teething troubles (the baby, of course). I'm gasping for air and desperate for someone to throw me an arm floatee or something these days.

I guess we're all drowning in our own pools of sleep deprivation, or anxiety, or hopelessness, or ....whatever.... at times.

I touch base briefly when another friend, a mother of a three-year old friend of my little girl's this afternoon. We are living in different places now, with different challenges, but instantly we are able to connect at the heart of the matter for us both: life has become a sacrifice. Words are coming out that I didn't plan, but I do recognize the truth that they hold. I'm telling her that I have to be thankful for my beautiful family, my healthy kids, the joy that they all bring. When I lose hold of that I fall into a hole of self-pity and forget the amazing blessings that I have. Life is a sacrifice, so many times. I recognize it and then demand my own way again in the next breath. It's like that verse of looking in a mirror, and then instantly forgetting what you've seen.

I forget. I forget. I dive into my pool of self-pity and then I'm gasping again and again for air.

I just had a birthday last week. I am now the age that it is believed that Jesus was when he died, 33. I've heard other people say this before, but now it's my own reality and I am shocked. Sacrifice. My savior paid the ultimate sacrifice in willingly ending his life to ensure a spot for me in heaven. A thought comes into my mind that this sacrifice that I make each day for these precious children is how he is teaching me to be like him. I marvel, because the thought does not come from me. I know he is placing it on my heart, and I am humbled. My sacrifice--lost sleep, frustration that I cannot always do what I want or even need exactly when I want to--well, it sounds like a child throwing a selfish tantrum as I think about the sacrifice of life offered to me in the form of loss of life, and so much suffering, by him.

Thank you, Jesus, for showing me again that it's not all about my drowning. And for gently reminding me of what the sacrifice is all about, which is in learning to be a little more like you. In comparison my suffering is so miniscule that I glimpse again into the nature how deep and how wide is your love.