Thursday, December 30, 2010

Babies, Boobs and Banana Bread

We went to dinner with friends last night.  New friends.  It was great.  We left the kids at home and had 3 hours of adult conversation that included everything from potty training to parents and all of the in between.  When we got home I laid in bed thinking of all that we had talked about and all that we had left out.  I realized that there is so much to know about people. I realized that from the outside everyone looks more normal, more together, more happy, more faithful, and less dysfunctional than you feel.  But actually, everyone is the same. The same but different. 

Our friends are also new to Franklin.  And thank God they did not tell us how much they absolutely LOVED it and fit right in because if they had it would have made my spring roll a lot less appealing.  No, they too were trying to find a place, a purpose, a person, to make them feel like they are home.  We sat there and talked a long time about friends.  Making them, keeping them, wanting them, praying for them, needing them.  We talked about how women especially need friends and how ridiculously terrible most of us are at making friends, new friends, real friends. 

We discussed how much easier it would have been to just stay in our comfort zone in the same little town or big city that we grew up in and have our play dates with our Stephanie and Samantha.  With the women that know us, that love us, that already know the secrets and the wounds and mistakes and love us anyway and more because of them.  But instead we both were in Franklin TN, lost and lonely if we were completely honest.  And isn't that what has kept us from making new friends? Honesty and openness either on our part or the part of the women we have tried to connect with.  Society has done women an injustice with TV shows and Hollywood magazines.  They have made us all think that unless we are completely together 100% of the time we are failing as wives, mothers, daughters, and friends.   But honestly you and I both know that no one is completely together 100% of time and most of us would take 45% if we were telling the truth. 

We meet new women and we smile too much.  We tell great stories of smart kids and beautiful new homes.  We talk about how much we love our mom and how we married the best man that ever walked the face of the planet other than Jesus (and let's be honest there is only one Shawn Hall so the rest of you are clearly not telling the truth) :).  We drink coffee, swap recipes, compliment one another on the immaculately clean house  that we are standing in as we eat banana bread that tastes so good that we could eat the whole loaf.  Instead we eat a piece fit for a two year old and comment on how we still have five pounds to get rid of and waste a perfectly good loaf of yummy banana bread! 

What is wrong with us!!  First of all, you and I both know that 30 minutes before you got here I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to clean the kitchen, bake the bread, fix my hair and put on make up.  I was stuffing everything I could find in closets and bribing the kids with everything in the house that had sugar in it begging them not too mess up for at least 20 more minutes!  I swept and dusted only the areas that you could see and if you pulled back the shower curtain in my ridiculously clean bathroom  (that I finished wiping down as you rang the doorbell) you would see two dirty washcloths and 15 toys in the bottom of it.  Ten minutes before you got here I was on the phone with someone in my family who had either pissed me off or driven me crazy and there were two dirty diapers on the ottoman in the den that still had not made it to the garbage can from when the kids got up three hours ago.  Neither of my kids slept through the night, I am exhausted, my husband has not been home in time for dinner in a week and the overhead light in my kitchen still has not been fixed and it is driving me nuts!!  There is pile of clean clothes in the closet that you just walked by and the laundry room door, well it is closed for a reason.  Don't even get me started on my weekend that was full of drama from extended family, sick kids, and eggs and grits for three out of four meals.  This my friends is real life. 

Real life is peanut butter covered kids that need there butts whipped more often than not.  It is dishes in the sink and clothes in the floor.  It is breakfast for dinner because we are just too tired to cook and poor to eat out.  Real life is temper tantrums at the most inconvenient times, poopy diapers in restaurants, parents that drives us nuts, spouse that don't always make the right choice, kids that don't always listen.  Real life is dirty bathtubs, messy hair, boobs that will never look right again because we nursed our babies, saying good bye to a six pack of abs and hello to the tankini.  Real life is messy and sad and funny and scary and completely dysfunctional in different ways for all of us just like God meant for it to be.  So why are we all pretending it is something else? 

The truth is that without other women I would lose my mind.  I need friends.  Real friends that know what it is like to have a baby and what it does to your body.  Friends that understand why it doesn't matter if I have 5 extra pounds or 50 it is still hard and still frustrating to buy new clothes.  Friends that have had days when their husbands have made them cry and their kids have made them feel like they have failed.  Friends that have PMS, that pray for babies, that cry at negative pregnancy tests, that feel like they are losing their minds at their job whether its at home or at an office! Friends that have toys and wash cloths in their bathrooms and don't care if my kitchen is clean.  Friends with whom I can share my life, my fears, my joy and my faith.  We all need these friends and if you ask me we should all work harder at being this kind of friend. 


As we walk our path of life,

We meet people everyday.

Most are simply met by chance.

But, some are sent our way.

These become special friends

Whose bond we can't explain;

The ones who understand us

And share our joy and pain.

Their love contains no boundaries.

So, even we are apart.

Their presence enhances us

With a warmth felt in the heart.

This love becomes a passageway,

When even the miles disappear.

And so, these friends, God sends our way,

Remain forever near.

Writer Unknown

Life is too short to waste our time pretending. It is meant to be shared and enjoyed with the people around us.  I don't believe that God means for us to befriend every woman that crosses our path. But I do think that if we are real with one another and true to who we are, He will send the right women at the right time in the right season.  

”A woman’s heart plans her way, but the Lord directs her steps.” Proverbs 16:9

May the Lord bring you just the friend that you need in the New Year.  And when He does, I pray that you will do less cleaning and eat more banana bread ;)


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Snowflakes and Jesus.

This weekend I had a romantic getaway with my very best friend.  It was cut short by the snow and slush that covered Nashville and surrounding areas on Sunday.  So, with the theme of the year, our little moment of rest, of happiness, of peace was replaced with the stress and chaos of trying to get home to our sweet girls.  Back to reality, which is not so bad here at the Hall house. 

Last night I sat reading while my girls slept and my sweet husband worked.  I thought about the weekend, my parents who came to help, the place that we stayed, the magic of the little cabin and the beauty of the landscape.  I thought about the huge fireplace that we enjoyed from the minute that we walked in, the fresh bread they brought for us and left at our door at 7 am, the puzzle that occupied our minds so wonderfully rather than the usual crap that we are both worried with.  I closed my eyes and remembered all of the moments that Doc and I enjoyed together.  The moment when we both tasted the best pasta that we had ever eaten, the moment that we pulled into Evergreen Farm, the moment when I sat and watch him build a big beautiful fire, the moment when I got my chair in just the right spot and leaned back and sighed a sigh of relief, of gratitude, of gratefulness for that moment. 

I realize that is all life is, one huge collection of moments.  Moments that tell our story.  Moments of joy, of happiness, sadness, glee, anger, stress.  Moments of life and death and marriage and divorce.  All of these things happen in moments.  They are like the snowflakes falling, all the same but different.   When you look at them together it's just cold, wet, beautiful, messy snow.  But separately they each have their own shape, their own meaning, their own place in our memory. 

God gave us life and free will to live it as we choose,  to make our own decisions and our own path.  Everyday, every decision, every moment is different just like the snowflakes but all of them are collecting as we age and at the end of our days they too will look like a big pile of snow.  Sloshy and sloppy and beautiful snow and waiting to be sifted through when we need  a laugh or a smile or want to share our past with a new friend.

One day we will stand before Him each of us praying, pleading, hoping that he digs about halfway down to one of our best moments rather than looking at the collection as a whole.  And He will. You see He is looking for one moment.  One snowflake.  He does not care about the time when you were 6 and you stole candy from the store when your mom wasn't looking.  He does not care what you did or did not do in high school.  Your college years mean nothing to Him. The marriage that failed, the lie you told, the father that you weren't, the mother that you should have been, the son that you weren't, the friend that you betrayed, the wife that you abandoned, the kids that you failed,  the business that you cheated, these moments, He digs right past.  He is God of grace and of mercy.  He cares not what you have or have not done in your life.  You collection of snowflakes was yours to make and he does not judge you on the collection as a whole.  He is looking for one moment, one prayer, one beautiful, individual snowflake.  And if He finds it, you're in.

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9.

On December 25th we will get up, Santa will have come, we will open presents and celebrate family and friends.  We will eat and drink and be merry and that is how it should be.  However, let us not forget that if not for one moment over 2000 years ago, one birth, one beautiful night, one gift that our Lord gave us, He would sift through our sloppy wet snow and we would be turned away.  Without the birth and death and resurrection of His son, we would not have that moment He is looking for.  That one, single, beautiful moment where we gave our hearts, our lives, our everything to our Lord and put all of our faith in Him is the only one He cares about.  Amazing.  God gave His son so that I could spend eternity with mine.  This Christmas the meaning of that is so clear, so wonderful, so perfect to me. 

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

I pray friends that you have a Merry Christmas.  I pray that Santa is good to you, that you travel safely, that you enjoy your families and eat well.  But more than that I pray that if the big, wet, beautiful pile of snow that is your life does not include the one snowflake He is looking for that you will take a moment, just one, and put your faith in Him. Add that moment to the wonderful collection that is your life and enjoy as He blesses you everyday, loves you like you have never been loved and welcomes you into His kingdom when your time comes. 

Love, blessings, and a Merry Christmas to you all!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas without Bennett.

It's been a while since I have written much about our sweet Bennett. Considering  the time of year and the way my heart feels I think I should.  I am not sure if it is Christmas or the end of 2010 or both but I have been covered by that mean old blanket of sadness for the last few days.  A friend of mine who has lost a child related it to me this way.  She said that Christmas is supposed to be a happy time and yet those of us who have suffered a loss feel as though someone is missing which is what makes it so confusing and emotional for our broken hearts.  I think that's probably as close as I can get to understanding why it is that every time I look at my Christmas tree and my sweet girls enjoying all of the lights my arms feel empty and heart feels like it is going to explode. 

There are things that I struggle with like is it weird that I think three stockings on the mantle is a good idea?  Should he have an ornament like the girls do for the first year they were born?  I mean I get it, we aren't buying the little guy any presents.  But at Christmas there are things that acknowledge your children, each of them and all of them, and he is one of our children.  So if we don't do anything to acknowledge him as one of ours then I feel like we are acting like he was never here.  I am not sure what Doc really thinks of any of it.  I haven't asked him because I have been so caught up in how I feel about it I haven't even considered him. That is just the truth.  Honestly, he knows I am struggling and I think he would do just about whatever I needed to get through this time no matter how strange it was.  He's a great man and I am so blessed. 

I have two beautiful, wonderful little girls.  But honestly friends, that does not take away from the fact that I am missing the hell out of the sweet boy that I should be toting around in my Ergo Baby while I make popcorn and put lights on the tree.  It just doesn't and I am not sure it ever will. 

Christmas around here is going to be a BLAST.  Scooter is so excited about everything and Presley is just a mess!!  We are blessed beyond measure and intend to enjoy every second.  I will not miss one moment busy with my sad heart.  But I will take a few special ones to remember, to cry and to imagine the face of that sweet little guy that should be celebrating his first Christmas with us this year.  And yes, I just decided that he will have an ornament on our tree. Just one.  But it will be on there.  After all, he is part of this family and of our hearts and we will honor him with our memories.

I know that you guys pray for me all of the time and I am so grateful!  Your prayers have brought me more comfort than you can ever know.  Today I would like you to take those prayers and give them to another family that needs them much more than I do right now.  I have some friends that are fighting desperately for the health of their boy.  His name is Harrison Hudson and he is 5 weeks old and is fighting his little butt off trying to get healthy enough to go home.

As you can imagine their story has really touched my heart.  Oh what I would have given for Bennett just to have had a shot to live.  After we lost Bennett, Doc made a really good point. He said you always see families with children that are special needs and think of how blessed you are that your children are healthy.  And that is very true. But when you lose a child you realize that the burden of special needs seems more like a blessing than a curse. He said he would have carried Bennett or pushed him or bathed him for as long as he lived just for a chance to love him and have him here with us. 

Harrison is a special little boy and truthfully he may have some special needs one day.  But our God is a God of miracles and you and I both know that He is capable of anything.  So I am asking you guys to lift up Harrison!!!  Please put him on all of your prayer lists and ask the Lord for a Christmas miracle for this sweet family.

I pray that each of you are having a wonderful holiday season and that you enjoy every second of it!!
Thank you for your love and support!

Love and blessings,

Thursday, December 2, 2010

This little light of mine.

Yesterday I had coffee with a new friend.  A new friend with strong faith in our Lord and a heavy heart.  A new friend that has lived a life touched by loss and death, yet still praises Jesus with all that she has and lets Him speak to her.  And get this.....she listens.  A friend that despite her life, her news, her health has a light that shines through her when she talks about Jesus that made me envious!  It is friends like these that we all need in our life.  Friends that remind us that, no matter what, we should be listening to One voice and One voice only.  After all, there is only One that really knows what is best for us and holds our heart in His hand. 

After we finished our coffee she thanked me for my prayers and my support.  Off we went into the cold TN night home to our very different lives.  Mine filled with babies and a husband that loves me and hers a little lonely and a little scary right now.  As I drove home I realized I should have thanked her.  Thanked her for reminding me who I should be listening to even on the worst days.  Thanked her for the example that she sets with her faith.  Thanked her for being my friend and sharing her light with me.  I didn't, but I will. 

That is twice this week that I have been touched by a new friend.  The first time was different, but still had the same light that shone through when it happened.  I got a gift.  A precious, sweet gift that touched my heart like no other gift has in a very long time. In addition to the gift, I also got a beautiful necklace that included my sweet boy's initial and birthstone.  You see the gift was not the necklace. The gift was what it meant.  The gift was the memory, the reminder, the acknowledgement of our baby boy that we miss everyday but know has been forgotten by many.  Our lives have been forever changed by him but others were just touched with sadness in the moment of our loss. 

This is a friend, a new friend that knows very little about me in comparison to others in my life.  A friend that heard the story of Bennett the first night that she met me because she shared a similar story.  A friend that has never had a cup of coffee with me one on one.  One that I have never taken food too when she was sick or called on her birthday.  We haven't celebrated a birth or a death together or a holiday for that matter.  Yet still, in midst of her chaos, she remembered my boy and touched my heart with that memory.

These are the kind of friends I have been praying for, begging for since we moved to TN.  As a matter of fact, these are the kind of friends Doc has been asking Him to send me.  I am grateful beyond words that I have met women like these to walk with in this season of my life.  My only prayer is that I can somehow touch the lives of others as they have touched mine.  After all isn't that what we are supposed to be doing?  We should be shining our light so brightly that everyone around us can see it!  We should be letting our love of the Lord shine through so that even smallest of deeds or sentiment make a huge impact on someone around us. 

Matthew 5:14-16 tell us  -Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

I pray that if your candle is dim today someone will share their light with you.  I pray that if your candle is bright, you will place it somewhere for all to see.  And finally, I praise Him for the two women that shared their flame with me this week. 

Have a blessed day my friends!