Monthly Archives: April 2014

New Life: Why Easter is my favorite holiday.

Peonies in our back yard. Peonies die to the ground in the winter, and two weeks ago these were only a cluster of fingers peering out of the dirt.

Peonies in our back yard. Peonies die to the ground in the winter, and two weeks ago these were only a cluster of fingers reaching out of the dirt.

Is it weird that as an adult, Easter has become my favorite holiday? Those prone to opine about such things as favorite holidays always seem to focus on Christmas, or maybe Halloween if they are a little more of a dramatic-type. Mr. Fly’s favorite holidays are Fourth of July and New Year’s because “neither requires gift giving or obligatory time with family.” But to me, Easter is the day.

Easter combines less pressured and overwhelming gift giving than Christmas, less candy (and better candy, Reese’s Eggs, anyone? And I’ll see you one Reese’s Egg and raise you a Reester Bunny!) than Halloween, better weather than any other holiday, and one of my favorite church services of the year. At our church on Easter, the congregation sings the Alleluia Chorus from the Messiah at the end of the service, and Mr. Fly and I belt it out like no one’s listening (or everyone’s listening. Mr. Fly loves an audience. We also have our own personal Messiah scores. Don’t judge, you know you’re jealous.)

And the clothes! Easter calls for church goers, at least in the South, to trot out the best-of-the-Sunday-best, especially for the children. I cannot resist a baby boy in a smocked bubble, a little girl in a bonnet and gloves, or a little boy in a seersucker suit.  Bow ties and suede bucks come out of their boxes for the day and we are all a more colorful, reborn version of our sad winter selves.

These seemingly superficial trappings of gifts and beautiful clothes allow me to show the gratitude and joy that I feel inside, as we spend this day worshipping with family and friends. I give gifts to my children because I want them to feel the importance of the holiday and my gratitude that Jesus died for me and for them. I want my entire family to be wearing color-coordinated, absurdly fancy outfits because this is not just any day of the year, this is EASTER, and it is spring, and Jesus is reborn, we are reborn, and the world around us is reborn.

In my over-excitement about the holiday during breakfast yesterday, as we ate cinnamon rolls and the kids emptied their baskets, I tried to explain the story of the resurrection to Big Boy. There’s got to be a primer for this somewhere (his children’s Bible does not even include the Easter story), but lacking one, my version ended up with “And then God brought Jesus back to life again with his magic.” I doubt this will win me any theology awards, but that’s what it feels like we are celebrating on Easter. God’s magic, and His power to bring hope and joy to the bleakest and darkest of times.

Somehow my house still stands even after the explosion of candy, Easter grass, love, children’s laughter, and joy it held yesterday. Today I feel both exhausted and exhilarated, and my voice is hoarse from belting out hymns, songs of praise, and sharing food and fellowship with friends. I am trying to get back into my normal routine, but everything outside calls me to continue to celebrate spring and the new world God has made for us.

In this new world it is spring, and the world is on the cusp of new life and we are in the middle of it. All this seems like a miracle, an absurdly generous reprieve from this winter and the life we’ve been living over the past six months.

I am grateful that yesterday was a raucous celebration of joy and beauty and life.  I hope I can hold fast to the spirit of this celebration until it is time once again next year to fill the baskets, plan the outfits, buy the Peeps, make the cakes, and sing until our voices are merely whispers, to shrug off the darkness and doubt that I know will come. For now, however, I will enjoy God’s magic in the sunshine.

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Sunglasses – My Messy Beautiful

 

 

James sunglasses

On certain days, days that seem to occur all too frequently lately, I’d like to wear my sunglasses all the time. Day or night, sunshine or rain, inside or outside. My sunglasses are a secret identity, a cape, a mask, and a sign that reads “Don’t talk to me. I’m intimidating. Reeeeeeaaaally intimidating.”  Wearing my sunglasses, the garage door is locked, the lights are off, and I am hiding upstairs in my bedroom, wallowing in a safe, sad bubble, hoping whoever rings the doorbell will just go away.

With my sunglasses on, I can be a lady on her way back from the eye doctor after a friendly, afternoon dilation. Or hey, maybe I’m just hung over.

With my sunglasses on, I am not the lady that’s been crying in her car for an hour before walking into her son’s school because he had a cluster of seizures that morning and “you need to come now or we’ll have to call 911.” I am not the woman with under-eye circles so purple and permanent as to thrill the make-up counter ladies to offer her an “incredible deal on the best new eye cream!” I am not the person that runs a mental calculus every morning about what time it is and what time did James wake up and has he had his medicines. I am not so tired.

But there always comes a point, as it did earlier this week, in James’ classroom with his sweet teachers and sweeter classmates, that I have to take them off. No one has ever said anything to me or asked me to take them off, but eventually I feel like I have no other choice. (And no, it’s not because I’m afraid of looking weird. Or people thinking I look weird. We know this.)

I walked into his classroom after they said he was having seizures and I needed to come right away. Seizures aren’t new for us at the Family Fly, but this sounded like something different. Everyone at the school was worried, and I was worried, and Mr. Fly was so worried that he left work without telling me he was doing it and drove straight to the school as fast as he could. And I cried the whole way there, and I was sad, and I was angry about why this was happening to us–Am sad and angry, although it’s hard to hold on to that level of emotion all day long. And I wore my sunglasses, and they made me feel better. Because I thought no one could see my sad and angry.

The mask may may have worked on the strangers I passed in the church parking lot where James’ school is house, and it may have worked on the church ladies preparing the fellowship hall lunch (“Does that young lady have an eye infection like that poor Bob Costas?”).  Once I walked into the classroom, however, their magic stopped working.

I saw James, and he looked at me and said, “Mama.” It’s the only word he can say, but if he’s going to have just one, it’s a good one. To James, I will always be Mama– there is no mask, no cape, no secret identity that can change that. And he sees me, and smiles, and says “Mama.”  This is his word, no matter how dark and puffy my eyes are and no matter how much I cry.

The other children in the classroom love a visitor and I soon found myself in a swarm of little people with sticky hands and feet wearing colored orthotics decorated with sports themes, rainbows, and hearts. (James has blue fish on his– I can never decide if a colorful design on a medical device like AFOs (the orthotics a lot of special needs kids wear to help stabilize their ankles) is adorable or depressing. Both, I suppose.)  One of my favorite little girls in the class, Katie,* peered up at me and gave me one of her trademark hugs.

And with James’ “Ma-ma,” and that hug, and the children playing around me, I no longer wanted to be zipped up in that sad and angry bubble by myself.  I took the sunglasses off. Only then could I really see the children playing, the easter art projects they’d made the day before, and have a real conversation with his teachers.

Seizures are terrifying and unpredictable and watching one happen in someone you love is like watching them possessed by something evil and foreign. But they end, and your person comes back to you, and he calls you “Mama.”   No matter how appealing pulling the shades down on the world feels so much of the time, when you are locked inside yourself, you miss the good stuff too.

I don’t plan on getting rid of my sunglasses anytime soon. (For one, they make an awesome headband. And two, they are really cute sunglasses.) But I will try not to wear them inside so much. There’s so much fun that I’d miss if I was alone in that sad bubble.

*Names of children other than my own have been changed to protect their privacy.

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As those of you that have visited me here before well know, Messy Beautiful could practically be the title of this blog. Well, Messy Beautiful  Reasonably Attractive You Wouldn’t Recoil From Us or something of that nature. But anyway, this essay is part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project.

To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

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