Friday, August 13, 2021

40-year-old Stephanie

 Today definitely was FRIDAY the THIRTEENTH!
It lived up to its name because it was a no-good very bad horrible day.
It was one of those days when things didn't go as I hoped and planned for.
There were crushed expectations and heartbreak.
It was a day where I actually wondered if God really hears me.
I drove to Christian's office and cried to him in the car while the kids
rode around on their skateboards and scooters in the 100-degree weather.
Christian took the rest of the day off and with Ollie joined me 
at my Barre3 studio, and together we took a class.
It was just what I needed.
My mind cleared and moving my body helped me settle my thoughts
and sort through my feelings.
Lottie and Gigs were at the pet store across from the studio 
where they spent the whole hour looking at all the critters 
It worked out great.
After, we grabbed dinner and took it over to UNC campus.
The summer evening was humid and the fireflies aplenty!
On the lawn near the basketball stadium 
we watched new students move into dorms and apartments.
Every once and while a U-haul truck would pull 
into the parking lot followed by families in cars.
It's an exciting time for many.  
And I felt envious.
When I was 23 years old, we were living in East Brunswick, New Jersey.
 Claire was 3, and Jane was 2, I was pregnant with Oliver and super sick.
Christian would take our only car to Piscataway to work each day,
and I felt like I was dying.  Those were really hard days for me.
I was so sick I couldn't even go into my kitchen unless I HAD TOO.
It was like my worst nightmare was in that dreaded room with all
its smells and weird stains and oh my gosh even typing
 about it makes me dry-heave a little.
Claire: "Mom, I'm hungry."
Me: "What?  You're hungry?  Whyyyyy?"
(Looks at the clock, it's 11:00 and no one has eaten since 
getting up at 7:00 am.)
Me: Just wait until the show is over.
(1 hour later)
Claire: Mom, the show is over, I'm hungry."
Me: How about one more show?  No?  
OK come on, we can do this.
Let's get as much stuff we can so we don't have to 
go back into the kitchen until daddy comes home."
We had lots of "picnics" on the living room floor back then.
And I can't even remember what my kids ate.
But we all survived.
One day I was laying on the couch
 waiting for Christian to come home and rescue us
 when a knock came at the door.
It was the mailman, Todd.
He handed me a small package and I immediately opened it up.
It was from my friend in Utah who had made an album of
 beautiful gospel music and so graciously sent me a copy out of the blue.
 I think it literally saved my life.
I played that album over and over and over and over and over again that day. 
The music, the words, her calming voice helped me feel strong and capable.  
When Christian got home from work I was in tears which, to be honest, 
was kind of common for me at that time.
But this time the tears were different.
I asked him to take me out of the house and for a ride 
(plus, the smell of my house was killing me).
We drove the 30 minutes south to Princeton University where we drove
around the campus with the windows down and music on volume 100.
I sobbed the whole time.
Christian held my hand letting me feel and process those feelings
not saying much but offering sweet glances and hand squeezes.
It's a memory I'll never forget.
Claire and Jane were tucked in their car seats looking out their windows
while sucking on their binkies.
At that very second all was well in my world.
I was going to make it.
I'd have this baby.
I wasn't going to be sick forever.
My house wouldn't be a dump forever, and
we'd save enough money to fix it up (at least buy paint! And we did!).
The house wouldn't smell like mothballs and old people forever.
I wouldn't avoid opening my fridge forever.
I'd cook again.
I would find joy and purpose again.
I'd be stronger.
And I did, and I was.
Now, lately, I've been listening to this album again.
Something about that situation 16 years ago seems so familiar now.
It has brought back so many feelings; good and bad.
But best of all, it's brought up a
sense of confidence and strength that 23-year-old Stephanie 
discovered in herself back then and now is teaching and helping 
 40-year-old Stephanie remember about herself and
about her own resiliency.

I mean, really, that wasn't even hard.
Hard would be in four years.

* * * * 
"Let me be direct and clear. The answers to the questions “Am I good enough?” 
and “Will I make it?” are “Yes! You are going to be good enough” and 
“Yes, you are going to make it as long as you keep repenting and do not rationalize or rebel.”
 The God of heaven is not a heartless referee looking for any
 excuse to throw us out of the game. 
He is our perfectly loving Father, who yearns more than anything else to
 have all of His children come back home and live with Him as families forever. 
He truly gave His Only Begotten Son that we might not perish 
but have everlasting life!
 Please believe, and please take hope and comfort from, this eternal truth. 
Our Heavenly Father intends for us to make it! 
That is His work and His glory."

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