Friday, December 4, 2020

Coming of the Light

Advent: In Latin, the word means coming. Thus, the season of Advent is when we, as Christians, prepare our hearts to celebrate the coming of Jesus. 

Full disclosure: I often begin the season with a heart toward advent. But when the busyness of the holiday ramps up, I find myself more focused on the comings and goings of my family -- Christmas parties here, Christmas concerts there, Christmas cards to create, and presents to buy and wrap -- than on the miracle of Christ's coming.

But 2020.

As much as I hate it, there are no comings to anticipate this season. I won't get to host Wade's department Christmas party. His staff, whom I adore, won't be coming to our home. I won't get to gather Cate's friends for cookie-baking. There will be no gaggle of giggling girls coming to gather in my kitchen. Family won't be traveling here. I miss my Mama and the anticipation of showing her around Delaware. The comings will just be very slim in deed.

So I am committed to focusing on advent. I am working to focus on the miracle of this season, rather than the worries, the aloneness, the scary that has been this year. I am working to focus on the coming of light.

"In [Jesus] was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." John 1:4-5

I love light. I am an 80s teen who would put my lawn chair on our back patio and lay with the sun beating down on me in such a way that I could see the light through my closed eyelids. (We won't talk about the baby oil slathered on my body or the lemon juice in my hair....) I am the homeowner who leaves windows uncovered to maximize the sunshine that can come in. I am a lover of lamps and bright bulbs and frankly drive my family crazy because I like the family room fully lit even during movie night.

This fall, I took a little corner of our yard and turned it in to a gathering spot. The area already had a fire pit but I added poles and string lights and nothing is as magical for me as having those lights aglow. We gathered back there in early fall before the lights were added, the only illumination coming from the fire. It was dark. And so the lights were added. Oh my goodness, the minute the string lights are plugged in, the entire area lights up and makes it easy to see any one gathered there.

So far, the only negative is how far the spot is from our house making the trek for s'mores fixings, or hot cocoa a bit of a hike. Recently we were out there, and once we had carted everything back to the house, I went out to turn the lights off. The fire was almost out, few embers were glowing, And so the second I unplugged the lights, I was thrust into darkness as black as tar. I couldn't see anything and just had to trust my knowledge of the yard to make my way back to the house.

When I reached the sanctuary of our warm home, I looked back at this my new favorite outdoor area, with anticipation of the next time we would gather there, with those delightful string lights aglow.

This morning, I keep thinking of that anticipation -- isn't that exactly what Advent is? We are filled with the anticipation of the one who is the light in our darkness. For all the horror of this 2020 year, the light of Jesus is no less bright. This season might -- and definitely does -- look different in many ways. But we can still celebrate the light that came into this world in the most unlikely of ways. We can still celebrate the light of Jesus. 

Jesus shines in the darkness -- even the darkness of 2020. And the darkness has not -- and will not -- overcome him.

That is worth an entire season of celebrating.

Carol - The Blessings Counter

Monday, November 23, 2020

My Daddy.

Twenty-seven years. I have lived without him longer than I got to walk this earth with him. 

Maybe it is the fact that this pandemic already has me on an emotional roller-coaster, or maybe it is that the pandemic has stolen my normal. See Daddy died a couple of days after Thanksgiving -- November 27, 1993. So the anniversary always falls right around the holiday. And at the risk of sounding cliche, I am thankful. See if there was an award for making random traditions with your family around a holiday, I would be amongst the top contenders. I can throw myself into celebrating like you have never seen. And I have. And I do.

Except this year. This stupid pandemic is stealing all my normal routines, my normal go-tos for making these days about something other than the immense grief that sits on my chest. 

I miss you, Daddy.

Carol - The Blessings Counter

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Painting a Masterpiece

Every year on World Cerebral Palsy Day in October, and also on America's CP Awareness Day in March, I talk about "going green" for awareness. I usually pull out a photo or two and "paint" it with my editing software so that it has a green tint. 

If you search this blog, you will find my first entry labeled Cerebral Palsy all the way back in 2012. I have apparently labeled 65 posts with Cerebral Palsy. That number shocks me and frankly just attests to how bad I am at labeling. See, here's the thing, I have posted 765 times here....and while there might be posts about seemingly random things, I can assure you that all are actually about cerebral palsy.

Because even as I tint everything green twice a year for awareness, the awareness I seek is that everything in our life has been tinted by Cerebral Palsy.

I was laying in the hospital on a labor and delivery floor when I first heard the term in reference to my as-of-then-unborn babies. The ob-gyn fellow was discussing my case with medical students outside my hospital room. She was very loud as she informed them that she would never take the meds I was taking because she wouldn't want babies that had cerebral palsy.

That was the first stroke of the CP paint brush across our lives.

The triplets volunteered -- or rather we volunteered them -- to participate in a study on premature babies. A physical therapist came to our apartment every week to examine them. Early on, Benjamin was reaching milestones way advanced for his age. "He might be using tone to hold his head up," our dear PT, Laura, told me. "He might have Cerebral Palsy."

That was the second stroke of the paint brush.

The boys were a year old when a doctor officially diagnosed them with CP.

And suddenly there was a third stroke painting our world.

My favorite Mississippi artist, Ellen Langford, often posts short video clips on her Instagram as she paints. Early on, her vision is imperceptible to my naked eye and yet I am fascinated to see the masterpiece I know will come from the strokes she is adding to the paper.

If I could go back to those early parenting years and tell young Mom-me anything, it would be that those initial paint strokes of cerebral palsy are but a small part of a beautiful amazing portrait. I would tell young me to enjoy the process as cerebral palsy layers surgeries, therapies, hardships, with accomplishments, friendships, love. I would whisper to watch for the strokes of color added by a high school commencement speech, a standing ovation at college graduation, successful archaeological digs, and brushes with presidential candidates. I would remind myself that every single painting by a true artist is unique and special and the lives of Benjamin and Mason will be exactly that.

Today, is World Cerebral Palsy Day. CP absolutely colors our world, painting every experience with the particular brush strokes that it brings. But those strokes are varied, the colors exquisite, and oh my goodness, the big picture to date is already a masterpiece! I am so grateful.

My own reminder of how an artist's strokes can create a masterpiece, an Ellen Langford original.

Carol - The Blessings Counter