Well.. that was embarrassing - pull it together

A typical Saturday - my normal grocery shopping day.  No big deal - I had a list, a few coupons; wasn't even a rush.  Ran into a friend in the produce - a quick hello and how are you?
Continued on through the meat section, passed by the bread aisle, then the soups and canned vegetables... and then it happened.  I sure wasn't expecting it - I wasn't at all prepared for it - If I could just find my friend from the produce section, she could talk me through it...
Just like every other week for the past 25 years or so... I reached for the blue box... the blue box of macaroni and cheese... and just as soon as my hand grasped the box, I felt that moment when you just know this is going to get ugly... FAST.  Hold it together, Susan, take deep breaths, think good thoughts.  It began as just a gulp, push that crazy feeling down in your gut!  This monster of emotion simply overtook me.  The gulp became a sniffle... the sniffle become a quiet tear... the quiet tear become a sob... and the sob became an out of control... trying to control... which made it even more out of control... sputtering, noisy, embarrassing wail.

The older lady riding the scooter approached me.  I had helped twice already... once finding 'baby' sweet peas - not those big mushy one; then on the next aisle as she couldn't reach the bowtie pasta on that high shelf.  She gently scooted closely and asked, "Honey, are you okay?"

"Yes  ma'am,"  I managed, "It's just.... just... (another dramatic sob).. it just that I'm not buying macaroni and cheese today - I DON'T NEED IT!"

She didn't quite get it, so I gained a bit of composure and tried to quickly explain that my last child had left for college three days earlier, and for the first time in a very long time, I didn't need to buy macaroni and cheese.  She giggled a little, and simply said, "Oh, dear, you will have many more times to buy and cook that macaroni and cheese - you better keep a box in your pantry... "

Well, of course she was right.

But can I just tell you, I certainly did not expect to have an embarrassing, empty nest, sad momma moment in the pasta aisle at the grocery store!!  Like some of you that have moved a child (and, yes they are children!!) to college in the past few weeks, I've read many of the "how to let your child go",  "how to allow your child to grow up", "how to help your child adjust to independence" and "how to keep the lines of communication open" articles.  They are all helpful.

As I finished putting the groceries away at home on Saturday afternoon, I had a few moments to think through the day, the week, the year, the chapter.  Frank and I have been parenting a child in our home for almost 30 years.  We have taught, we have disciplined, we have parented okay, we have offered thanks, we have parented poorly, we have apologized, we have advised, we have challenged, we have encouraged, we have laughed, we have cried, we have sobbed, we  have cheered, we have prayed... and the truth is... many of those "we haves" will continue... but more than anything now, we will pray... for our children, for their friends, for our grandchildren, for all those we have the privilege of influencing.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ... Philippians 1:9-10

 So, if you see some 50something lady sobbing in the mac and cheese aisle, just smile and tell her to buy it anyway...

and then we may or may not have spent the rest of the afternoon watching home movies...

Joy in THIS journey

I watched Ashley grow up.  A few months ago we were chatting over a little color and cut - (she graciously takes care of my hair)  Of course the conversation turned to McKinley.  McKinley is their daughter - she and Evan.... officially their daughter just a few weeks ago.  Joy unspeakable.  Tell me the story again, I pleaded.  She knew that I was preparing for a conference - Joy in the Journey. Well, you know, she began, I wasn't experiencing much joy... as a matter of fact, I was experiencing just the opposite: feelings of abandon, defeat and depression.  When she and Evan married, they expected to start a family immediately.

"I always considered myself a glass half full and positive gal, but honestly my cup was running on empty.  Sad, angry... angry at myself, angry at my body that wasn't working; questioning was God punishing me.  Several miscarriages brought despair to a new depth.  I stayed home from church, stayed away from prayer, seemed to be just existing.  I found myself in the middle of an honest conversation with someone I barely knew.  I caught myself in mid-sentence - thinking - if I were the one listening to this... I would run form this negative, defeated person.  All I heard was:
 I... I... I...
I am angry... 
I am depressed... 
I can't have children...  
With all those "I"s, I realized I was the problem.  So I found myself asking who does God say I am?  Were my words, my thoughts, my actions pleasing to Him and indicative of who He created me to be?  

My Heavenly Father reminded me of who He was - trustworthy, loving, deliverer, the Giver of so many blessings in my life.  In a prayer of desperation, I asked God to forgive me for doubting His plan, to forgive me for not trusting Him and to forgive me for not living in joy He provided.  During this time, I came across the verse I now try to live by, Romans 12:12 - "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." These are now the words I repeat.

The call came to the receptionist at our church, "Do you know anyone who wants a baby?"  Ashley's mom just happened to be within earshot.  That evening Evan and Ashley drove to the hospital and met a desperate mom looking for help.  After some discussion, she agreed to terminate her rights if they would adopt McKinley.  Two days later they drove away from that hospital, and that baby girl has never been out of their sight.  

Ashley's words, "I had a baby girl in my arms that would forever call me 'mom'.  God is real and always present in our circumstances.  God graciously bestowed this miracle to me in the form of a precious baby girl.  He clearly taught me that we can't find joy in ourselves or our circumstances, but only in and through Him.  He is faithful.

Many of us would agree that our circumstances, in and of themselves, rarely offer joy.  Clearly the Bible states in Hebrews 12:2-3:
For the joy set before him he endured the cross,
 scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Our joy comes through the hope we have in Jesus as He endured the cross with its shame for our salvation!  Thanks be to God the Father -  We have this hope and joy in our journey!