Tuesday, March 24, 2009

At Nonni and Papa's

Here are some pictures of the kids at my parent's house. There is so much to do there- we go on walks on Papa's trails in the woods, we go on tractor rides, we swing on swings, we play in the sandbox or the sandpile, we go on walks down to the lake and look for gators, and we play with our cousins. Ruthie has a cousin her age, Annabelle, just 5 months younger, and Mac has Alee, one day older- and they have so much fun together as you can see. Mac loves his Papa and wants to do everything he does. He was a big helper with the spring raking. I'll post some other pictures from former trips sometime.

A day at the beach

March means beach weather is here again! I love the beach in the early spring- it is cool and refreshing and amazingly beautiful. I spent time with my parents last week since Jay was out of town and they live just north of Navarre Beach, Florida. This beach holds so many memories for me- many other days at the beach in high school and beyond- and the memory of Jay asking me to marry him! So we loaded up the kids and spent some hours playing and having a picnic. Ruthie amazed me by actually playing in the water- which is still way too cold for most people. She danced and frolicked and it was precious to see. Mac loved digging in the sand and sliding down the big cliff cut out by the pounding surf. He liked the water too, but he wanted me to get in with him and I just couldn't do it. (Especially since my balance is all out of whack with this huge uterus.) I was sad to pack up and leave, but there will be more memories made on this stretch of white sand.

The Beauty of Bellingrath

Spring is here in Lower Alabama, and it is lovely in all its manifestations. I love going to Bellingrath each spring to try to catch the azaleas, and just to see the beautiful blooms as the gardens awaken. Ruth, Mac and I went with Jen and sweet baby Isabelle, and we had a really good time walking the paths. There is so much to enjoy with all senses, especially for children. We found polliwogs, frogs, fish, turtles, birds, fountains, and of course blooming things everywhere. Ruthie loved collecting fallen camellias, and gazing at the mermaid fountain (she has a special split fin.) She wants to be a mermaid when she grows up. Mac ended up covered in mud, from joyfully exploring every fountain and pond, and he stepped into the large lake with both feet, before I could stop him. He was a trooper though, and walked the rest of the way with completely wet and algae covered feet. Isabelle was a sweetheart, and really a good sport as we kept yanking her in and out of her cozy stroller for various photo opportunities. I love the one of her in the green, green grass (as it was St. Patty's day). Check out Jen's blog for more pictures of our fun morning.

Little Painters

We recently painted birdhouses- the kids loved it. They were so intent on their painting- even Mac, who I wasn't sure about. Ruth also painted a jewelry box that she had made at Lowe's in February for her friend Paige's birthday party. (If your children like making things they should check out the projects at your local Lowe's. They are free!)

New Haircut

Here is Ruthie's latest haircut (about a month ago). We love it! We had "girl time" together and got our hair done. I will put a picture of mine when I get a picture of myself that is decent. I decided to color all my gray and so I got a dye job. It is not that noticeable except to me! I do hate sitting there while it "processes." I felt like I was sitting in hell under that dryer. It burns! It burns!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Let Me Sing the Unsung

(This is an editorial I wrote that was published Sunday in my local paper. I was very excited to be able to honor my mother in this way, and also bring exposure to the Women's Resource Centers around our area.)

I have long admired my mother. When some talk of heroes I think of her. You will never see her face on a morning talk show. You will never see an article in your local newspaper featuring her hard work and faithfulness to her mission. She will never sit on Oprah's couch with a caption under her face and a blurb about her selflessness and the lives she has helped save. A presidential award will never be bestowed on her for standing up for the helpless, the silent victims of an unacknowledged war. Donations from yogurt companies, flower companies, clothing companies, and grocery stores will never pour in for her cause. Yet she labors. Yet she weeps. Yet she remains uncomplaining, not seeking glory. Yet she strives day in and day out.

Her battlefield is one of the Women's Resource Centers (formerly known as Crisis Pregnancy Centers) on the Gulf Coast. She strives to help women who are making one of the biggest decisions in their lives, a decision that will impact them every day for the rest of their lives. She longs to show them truth about the life growing within them. She provides for their practical needs, and offers a confidential, listening ear in the midst of their turmoil. She not only strives for the lives of the unborn children, but for the lives of the women who must choose- she works for their hope of a fulfilling future.

I have watched her struggles. I have seen her heart over the years as she has wept for these babies who have no voice. I have seen her heartbreak over the lives of the young mothers-to-be (or mothers-not-to-be), women suffering from abuse or violence or bad decisions. I have sensed the exhaustion in her voice after a day of counseling and listening and hearing the same stories over and over again. I have rejoiced with her over the pictures of the babies that are born out of these struggles, not necessarily to an easy life, but to life. I have smiled at my mother's joy as she held one of the precious lives in her arms and was glad.

These centers are quiet in the corners of America, but they are mighty. The women who work and volunteer are women who love life; some have made past decisions that have led to years of pain and regret, and they desire to save other women from this pain they have known. Some have fought the heartbreak of infertility, love adoption, and long for each unborn baby to find a loving home. They are all dedicated to life and they give themselves, their time and money and resources to the war for the souls of the mothers and the lives of the children.

My mother works long hours at the center, and she has helped it grow from a place where once only free pregnancy tests and baby clothes were offered to a place where ultrasounds are performed by a team of medical professionals, so the women can see the tiny being within- the pulsing heartbeat at six weeks, the little limbs being formed around seven or eight weeks, and later yawning and stretching as he or she grows and develops in secret. It is hard to deny the life that exists when you can see it moving on the ultrasound screen. Yet there are so many who continue to decry life, to say women like my mother are misinformed, and without a valid cause.

Why is my mother unsung? Why is her cause unacceptable to the mainstream media and popular culture? Why does she not win cruises and spa treatments for her unflagging labor in saving lives? Why do celebrities not sit at press conferences with serious faces and donate millions to rescue these millions? Simply because life inside the womb is not accepted as life. Because it is often inconvenient and unpopular to say that life begins at conception and should be protected. It forces people to ask hard questions, and face the consequences of their actions by making difficult, often painful decisions.

What are the acceptable causes? Starving children in Africa are clearly alive and in need of saving. We see their hurting faces and our hearts break and we long to rescue them. Women dying of breast cancer are clearly alive and in need of saving. They are our mothers and sisters and friends, suffering, and in need of a cure. Endangered whales and turtles are clearly alive and in need of saving. We see the newsfeed on CNN of the whales trapped in the shallows, dying unless the rescuers can return them to deep water in time. These are causes that are widely broadcast and that we can easily support, causes with many popular and vociferous spokespeople. If you save some of these, and please, please do, you will be lauded and feted. But if you say there is life in the womb, clearly, and that you want to protect it, you will be ignored, quieted and left alone to fight for your cause. These little lives are ignored because they are inconvenient, voiceless and unseen.

So this day I sing the unsung- my mother and those who labor alongside her, and ultimately the tiny lives who cannot sing for themselves. May we as a nation open our eyes, may we as a city open our arms, and may we as individuals open our hearts to these tiny ones and the women struggling to choose. May they choose what is right, though it may not necessarily be convenient, and may we come alongside them, through a Women’s Resource Center or just as a neighbor and fellow citizen and lift up their weary arms, dry their tears and offer them hope.