Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Our Feet from Falling

I can still remember her name. Sister Jepson. She had gorgeous, red hair. The longest I'd ever seen, and it hung in ringlets. One Sunday she asked us (her six year old Sunday School class) to draw a picture of something we were trying to do. Something we were working on, but hadn't mastered. I drew a picture of myself on roller-skates.

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Plenty of scraped knees on the driveway were proof that I was still trying. At the bottom of my paper she wrote three words: "Try, try again!"

Mom - thanks for saving this one. Who knew three decades later my thirty-something self would want it posted on her fridge?

Last week was hard for me. My soul was a bit scraped up, bruised in a few places, and in need of some spiritual aid. Many of you came to the rescue. You offered comfort and understanding, gave me windows into your own lives, and it healed my broken places. Thank you.

I've learned anew the power of words. Mine. Yours. How easy it is to cut, to hurt. Yet, how easy it is to also lift. Just a handful of compassionate words can tip someone's world aright. I have seen it with my kids. I have seen it in me. Yes, words are powerful.

Especially His.

I turned to the Psalms yesterday. They always make me feel like the Lord is nearby, within an arm's reach. And I read this.

"Return unto thy rest, O soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee. For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling" (Psalm 116: 7-8).

The Lord has dealt bountifully with me. This I cannot deny. And over the last few days, I have tried gratitude on. Worn it quietly over my heart, my eyes, and my ears.

Gratitude changes things. It doesn't disable the hard. Hard will continue to exist, to be a part of our existence. You have hard things. I have hard things. And sometimes we write about them; we try to make sense of the complexities in life. But gratitude is its own hidden secret. Because it opens us to God, to what He wants to whisper, and to the bountiful life each of us is living.

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You are living your own beautiful life. Nobody else's.

And I am living mine. (Thank you Kara.)

This whole journey, of trying to live the way we should, of finding and losing ourselves, of choosing motherhood and trying to do it right? It is hard. But the human landscape, with all its mountains and valleys, is what it is for a reason. We couldn't know one, call it what it is, if we didn't know the other.

And underneath all the style, the stuff, and even the blogs, I wonder if we aren't just a heap of hurting, flawed, but trying people. And for all our trying, maybe we ought to do as the Psalmist did and tell our souls to rest. To let God deliver our eyes from tears and keep our feet - our stumbling, bumbling feet - from falling.

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So I pulled out the last of the otter pops.

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I am trying some new parenting tactics (more on those later). And we had a family talk. About the unique situation our family is in. After that, Eliza, bless her heart, stepped up and stepped into that role of mama's helper. She has been buckling the boys into their car seats for me - trying to be a bigger sister than she is. And those things have melted me into a humbler mommy.

I washed all those dirty clothes from the mud bath. Twice. But look. One muddy handprint still remains. Do you think I ought to frame it?

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And my boys. My sweet boys.

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The girls were at a play date this afternoon so we shared popsicles in the shade, swapped licks, and watched for birds.

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To be with them and focus on them was it's own bounty.

I've dusted myself off, tried on the roller-skates again, and I'm moving forward with a trust that my efforts will be enough. Sometimes I forget that grace is part of the equation. (Thank you Anne Marie.) That all our days are laced with it, and with divine knowing.

I am comforted by this. I am on my feet. And I am grateful.


9 comments:

  1. ahhhhh....that felt good. Thank you. In a year life will be a smidge less crazy. In 2 years you'll feel like you have it pretty easy some days.

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  2. You are a beautiful writer with and even more beautiful soul. Love you!

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  3. Oh, how I love this. Thanks, Catherine. Those three girls on the bench are just darling. That scripture in Psalms is just perfect. "My feet from falling"....that phrase will have new meaning for me now. "A heap of hurting, flawed, but trying people"...yes, definitely. We are all far more vulnerable than we can even dream.

    I thought of you and our friend Ann when I read this scripture today: "For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God." 2 Corinthians 4:15

    Thanks again for your very, very kind e-mail. Love you. You are doing a marvelous job loving those kids.

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  4. I've never commented before but I wanted to say yes, you should keep the muddy hand print & I want to share a story. :o)

    I have one child, my son who is now 18. When he was 2 he was playing in his dad's car pretending to drive & got his little hand print on the windshield. I even have a picture I took as he played. The next time my dh cleaned the car he cleaned around the hand print & told me never to wash it off. For years we cleaned around it - we could still make it out a good 10 years later. Then it was just a dirty spot but my husband would not wash it off as he watched our son become a man.

    Last spring, dh was driving to work - still the same car, when someone turned in front of him & hit him. After I was sure everyone was fine, our first thought was the hand print is gone. He had the windshield replaced, everything fixed & still drives his old car to work.

    If we could have lifted it off the glass all those years ago we would have. I know it's silly because I have my son's handprints through the years saved in books or frames but this one meant something special to my husband so I would loved to have kept it.

    This muddy hand print made by your precious baby could be a reminder of the lessons learned & the specials days when it was made. So I would definitely keep it. Frame it or put it in a book with the verses from Psalm 116.

    I love your blog & special glimpses you share of your beautiful family.

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  5. I love this post! But love you more! And don't forget....you got to be a rockin' roller skater...so just hang in there! Love you!! :)

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  6. Beautiful. Your words are poetry and comfort. I'm glad your heart is on the mend. Thank you for your example of searching for strength in the most important places.

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  7. Kristen - yes. 2 more years. Things will have changed considerably!

    Michelle - you know I love you. xo

    Anne Marie - That verse from Corinthians is perfect. "Abundant grace" and "all things are for your sakes" - that is so important to remember. As always, thank you for your wisdom sweet friend.

    Jenny - that story is so very tender! I am glad you shared it here. I was planning on saving the shirt, but hadn't thought of linking it to the Psalm. A beautiful idea. I'm lingering over that image of your grown son's handprint on the windshield. I love that it was different, special, meant just a little more. We will crave those prints from the past, won't we? Can't thank you enough for sharing this part of yourself. Blessings to you and yours.

    Deb - I'm laughing so hard. You mean WE got to be rockin' roller-skaters! The driveway was our stage, yes? I love you so much. xo

    Heather - "searching for strength in the most important places." I wish I remembered this more often. You are dear. Thanks for your kindness.

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  8. Someone once said that you CAN change the past: one day in the future, what seemed a large chasm will be merely a dip in the road.

    When I had only 3 under the age of 3, I could NEVER get anywhere on time.

    Sometimes we NEED the "me" time to rejuvenate. In pre-cell phone days, when I had all seven at home, sometimes we would pull into the driveway and I would send them all into the house and tell them not to bother me unless it was a tornado, fire, blood GUSHING, or bone sticking out. My eldest, as teenagers, were perfectly capable of handling most other minor emergencies. And I would tilt back the driver's seat in our van and sleep.

    I just needed 10-20 minutes. Sometimes I got 3. Usually I got maybe 30 seconds.

    Once I wrote "Mothers are pies, and everyone wants a piece."

    For Mother's Day and birthdays, they would ask me what I wanted. I'd say, "One day without fighting."

    Long pause. Then a laugh. "Right, Mom. Really, what do you want?"

    I have many days without fighting now. Every day, in fact. And now I am learning to grandparent long distance.

    You will have your ups and downs.

    And I am grateful that you share both. I remember the many Sundays I spent in the foyer with little ones, unable to hear the speakers in Sacrament Meeting. But on those days there was usually another mother in the same predicament, and we would share, and I would go home rejuvenated, my cup filled.

    Sometimes you are that mother in the foyer.

    And your words fill cups.

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  9. Catherine...I saw your post on FB, and forwarded it on to a friend in my ward who is having twin girls...I didn't realize you had had 2 sets of twins..I guess I'm not a very good friend here. I need to keep in better touch! I'm pregnant right now with my 4th....I think your tips were helpful for me too! Thanks!

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