I sit here looking out my window at my garden, and I remember.
I remember when I looked out my window on April 7, 2002. (It's in my pregnancy journal.) It was a Saturday, and I was in my second trimester with my first baby. In those days, I was convinced I was fragile and shouldn't lift a finger.
My husband was outside, moving dirt around to start a garden in front of our house. Our house hadn't been built more than a year ago, so he basically followed the dirt lines left by the construction/landscaping crew.
I knew the dirt wasn't very good, and I didn't have the first inkling about how to make something grow anyway. After a trip to Home Depot, stupidly asking no questions, I chose to begin with 2 azalea bushes and 2 rhododendrons.
One rhododendron died almost on contact with the dirt. I really have no idea why one grew and the other did not. The azaleas fared better. I learned later that azaleas love the acidy soil that is plentiful around our house.
That summer, I gave birth to our first child. It's a good thing azaleas are perennial, because I did not have time to fuss over flowers. Time passed and I bore two more children while the azaleas faithfully returned each year to mark the end of April/beginning of May. Since two of my babies were born in April, there were a few years that I didn't even notice the blooms.
But a funny thing happened when the kids all made it to school age. I bought a recliner and put it in the living room by the window so I could do my writing with a beautiful view. For about a week or two each year, my window would be filled with plentiful pink flowers.
I rarely get to look out the window at them. Beginning of May is softball season, soccer season, concert season, Mother's Day, and a couple of birthdays.
As I write this, it's spring again, so just the other day, I looked out my window to see the azaleas blooming before I headed out to a 4th grade concert. The flowers were a blur. It's tough to see clearly through tears in my eyes.
You see, the last time my azaleas were blooming, I was on my way to a special "tea" to celebrate the end of my youngest's year in kindergarten. And now, all of a sudden, I am going out to celebrate my middle child's last few days in elementary school.
My children age like there's nothing to it. (I guess there really isn't, as far as they can see.) But the azaleas come back just the same every year. I will look out my window in just a few years to see the same azaleas, only they will be in the background of my oldest's prom pictures. Same flowers that struggled to come out just before she was born. But the child in the foreground is different.
Looking at the pretty pinks is becoming harder and harder. They announce the close of another school year. But they are the anchor of anything static in my ever-changing family.
The kids are growing, and I love that. It's just going to come as a shock one day to look out the window at the azaleas and not have to run to an end of the year concert. I won't know what to do, but at least I will have the azaleas there to look at.
Welcome to May. I will be looking out my window to see azaleas coming and going again, bowing away to give the limelight to the rhododendrons. Soon the rhododendrons will pass, too, so the butterfly bush can carry the summer.
But I won't forget the beautiful blooms from early spring. Even though they only lasted a few weeks. I know they will be back again in a year. It won't look exactly the same - nothing is ever the same - but they will be there. The kids inside the house guarded by the flowers will be much different, I'm sure. But, for now, they are still there as well.
So, good bye, for today, azaleas. I have a concert to go to. I don't have any time this year to see how you've grown. But your time will come, as my Lord wills it. I will be back to you before we know it.
I just finished a week where my husband was away on business, we had three softball games, two softball practices, one soccer practice, a field trip to chaperone, a viewing to attend, and a therapy appointment to keep with my 3 kids.
Maybe I should say, I "survived" the week?
Some of you are old pros. (I don't mean "old," I mean "veteran.") You look at my list and say, "Ha! I see your games, practices, and appointments, and I RAISE you music lessons, concerts, swim lessons... etc. AND I'm a single parent. Check and mate!"
It's not a contest. We're all busy. We all know what we can handle. We also all know when we are pushed to the limit.
Last week, I was pushed.
I received advice beforehand like,
"Don't worry about the house."
"Put Papa John on speed dial."
"Invest in paper plates." (That, I already do.)
But you know what? If I left my house a mess, I think I would have gone crazy. Leaving dishes in the sink would have nagged me to the thinking that the meal isn't "really" over. There will be more work. Because... I can leave them there for a day, but at some point, those dishes will need to be done.
I vacuumed every day, as I normally do. Part of the reason I do that is so I can pick up the clutter on the floor. I may have felt like I didn't have time for this, but it is always possible to squeeze 10 minutes out somewhere.
And then I had the sanity of having no visual clutter on the floor. (Instead, I had piles of clutter on tables. I could ignore looking at that for a few days, but at least I could walk and not step on toys.)
Remember, this is me, not you. You may only vacuum every 2 weeks, because that's all that's needed at your house. Or you can deal with a dirty floor. But maybe you need to weed your garden every day. My garden will not be weeded this year. Sorry if that makes you cringe.
You have your thing and I have mine. We have our routines to keep our sanity. When we keep our routines, our lives are tricked into thinking we've got this. We can handle whatever is thrown at us and still look normal. (Even if normal is just a setting on the dryer.)
I survived the week. Thanks to the prayers I received, God gave me the strength I needed to take it by the nape of the neck and throw it down. Now, we're on to a new week. It's going to be just as busy, but now at least, my husband is back. And my floors are picked up.
Yeah. I've got this. (Thanks, God!)
In honor of having lived 40 years now, let me save you younger ones some of the hassle. Older ones, feel free to leave more in the comments!
1. Yes, you CAN have too many tee shirts.
2. You never regret going out for a run
3. It is never wrong to show love
4. Love is something you do, not how you feel.
5. Bake often, but not on hot days. Save those for ice cream
6. Give your husband something to be proud of.
7. At a restaurant, don't be afraid to go with what you always get. You will know you will like it.
8. Prepare all of your end-of-life plans before it becomes essential (funeral, will, etc.). It will make it so much easier on the ones you leave behind.
9. Never procrastinate. Getting the necessary done now, which leaves more time later for the fun.
10. Take any opportunity you can to go to the beach. But never alone.
11. Shopping: never buy on impulse. If you happen upon something you have needed, and it is a better price than you have seen, get it. But if it was not something on your list, think first, don't buy. If you are still thinking about it later, go back for it.
12. Kids need down time. Let them have as much as they can tolerate without being bored. They will have to be structured soon enough.
13. Every time you go upstairs, take with you something that belongs up there.
14. Mess first, clean later. Sounds obvious. But don't scrub counters before you bake. This also goes for vacuuming AFTER, not before playgroup comes over.
15. Let machines do as much work as possible. They don't complain as much.
16. Sometimes it is better to forego things like having yard sales and participating in consignments because having more time is better than having more money.
17. Eat ice cream for breakfast. There isn't any reason not to.
18. Choosing a movie? Go with the comedy. If you laugh even once it's less disappointing than a movie you don't understand or sleep through.
19. Hold your child when he is sick no matter how old he is.
20. Have at least one tradition at birthdays. It will make everyone look forward to it. For my July birthday daughter, it's water balloons.
21. Shiny is good. Sparkly is better.
22. Good is fine.
23. Don't skip dessert.
24. Cereal for dinner sometimes makes everyone happy.
25. Get a large iced coffee, take out the ice and keep in the fridge what you don't drink.
26. Invest in lots of command hooks. Bring them on vacation and hang everything up.
27. You cannot have too many organizers.
28. Flowers are pretty, but roses from the grocery store aren't any less special than the flower store's.
29. Always have a list of places you want to go/ things you want to do when you suddenly find that you do not have your kids for an hour. Make another list for longer periods of time. Don't let that time slip away!
30. Read the book first and then watch the movie. It will make more sense. Especially Gone with the Wind.
31. No caffeine after 4pm. Go to bed when you're tired. It's better for your body than forcing yourself to stay awake.
32. Water is the only thing worth drinking for the sake of drinking. (Special treats are different. But make those worth it.)
33. If you have a book in your head, write it! Work through it after you write it to make it good. And then make it better.
34. Never waste time with TV if there's something better that can be done. Never waste time, period. Always have a plan.
35. Time DOES indeed pass. People DO change.
36. Sports are fun and they get you going. And since you never know how any given match up will go, it's never the same game twice. Play, if you can.
37. Be careful about what makes you cry early in your marriage. It will be remembered For.Ever.
38. Sometimes even things that were good will have "run their course" at some point.
39. Don't hang on to stuff. Really. It's just stuff.
40. I know that in another 10 years, most of this list will be obsolete and laughable. And I will have so much more to add, but not nearly as much as when I am 80!
May is National Asthma and Allergies Awareness Month.
May 6 is World Asthma Day.
And so, today, I would like to help those who do not have asthma understand a bit what it feels like to struggle breathing.
Here's What happens:
You know what it feels like when you need to cough, right? You NEED it. You feel that little wiggle of pheylgm and an incurable urge to expel it.
When you have asthma, you do, indeed, produce extra mucus, but your throat is so tightly constricted, you can't force it up. And yet, your brain tells you that you need to cough, so you cough. The cough further inflames your airway, causing it to swell, and giving a tighter grip of your muscles around your throat. Which, then again, makes you want to cough to open the airway. The cough forces out a large amount of air from your body, leaving it with very little left. Since your airway is swollen nearly shut, you can't get more air in. Your brain realizes there is not a good balance of good air to bad air in your body, which makes you panic. When you panic, you naturally produce a spike of cortisol. What does that hormone make you want? More oxygen. What happens when you can't deliver it? More panic. Do you see the loop here?
So, that's what's happening. Here's what it feels like:
Warm, humid days are the worst.
The humidity drapes itself over my body like a wet blanket for the first mile. It's tangible; I can feel the weight of the air. Then, the blanket sinks deeper, through my skin, and laces seem to appear in the heavy wool of the blanket which cinches tightly, strangling my never-prepared lungs.
Imagine a small child sitting on your chest. You know your lungs are big enough to still breathe and get in the air you need, but because of the child pushing down on your chest, they don't have the room for the air. Your lungs are not stronger than the child. Asthma is that child.
Your body does everything it can to get air in. So, you start by breathing in through your nose. You breathe heavily- you can never get enough- and so your nostrils begin to burn from the friction of the in-and-out quickness of the air.
Next, you breathe through mouth. After some experience, you know that this will burn worse. You can take in more air through your mouth, quicker. But it does not get where it needs to go. There seems to be a hole in your throat, so the air that comes in never makes it to your lungs.
Panic. You need air. Even your eyes widen, as if you could pull in air through the gaps in your eye lids. You can't think about anything else. If you are moving, you have to stop moving. You have to stop everything else your body is doing to focus on getting air.
And you are unsuccessful.
How long does it last?
An inhaler gets the oxygen in, so there is help immediately. But it burns going down. The burn lasts in your throat for hours. Also, the medicine leads you (or me anyway) to get get jitters that also last for a while. (This is because the medicine is a stimulant. I get the same affect from coffee.)
I could quit running. Asthma has made me hate it anyway. But I know the overall health benefits of running make it so that I almost can't give it up. So, I use my stop-gap measures to keep this problem under control the best I can. I go on the treadmill inside (where there is no pollen or humidity) or choose another exercise on days that summer has thrown me its worst. I never really get into a good rhythm.
I will never stop wondering if I would be able to truly love to run if I could actually breathe.
Passion Under Grace,