Thursday, August 15, 2013

41 Random Thoughts

Today I turn 41 and I am so thankful to be 41.  I am not scared, embarrassed, or nervous about being 41.  My days are numbered and I see each one as another opportunity to glorify God, apologize, fix my wrongs, make steps forward, love my family, serve those whom God puts in my path, make a difference in the lives of those God crosses my path with, and grow in my relationship with my heavenly Father and those around me.  Overnight I have come to realize I am an older woman God speaks of in Titus 2.  I am not the oldest woman but I am definitely not the youngest.  I am still learning.  Yet I can encourage.  A wise woman once told me that I would always be an older woman to my girls and I have enjoyed encouraging them but I now also know that as I move in and out of seasons of my mothering, I am not to neglect those coming behind me.  Sitting here on my birthday, I have 41 random thoughts.

#41~Pizza is always better with an ice cold Coke.  Not Coke Zero.  Not Diet Coke. Not Cherry Coke.  And definitely NOT Pepsi.  There it's off my chest.

#40~Babies won't always be babies.  Be with them while they are.  Love them.  Hold them.  Sing to them.  They won't always be up in the middle of the night.  Try to treasure those moments.  Pray for them when you feel like you don't have an ounce left.  Funny how a prayer to the Creator of life, can put just enough fuel in the tank to take the next moment with patience.

#39~An hour run in the dark is better than just one more hour of sleep.  I never regret a run but I have always regretted trading one for sleep.

#38~Having a teenage son is a great thing.  It doesn't have to be an "Oh you just wait" kind of time.  Do your teaching and training way before he has to look down at you to look at you and it can be a joy.

#37~As a piggy back to number #38....even when you think you have disciplined your toddler for the same thing 15 times in one day.....discipline your toddler for the same thing 15 times in one day if that is what is needed for him to learn.  It's ok to say, "I love you but you may not behave this way."  Don't ever stop teaching and training.

#36~Even when you don't feel like you are, be a brick wall.  Say it out loud.  Your kids need you to be a brick wall and one day they may thank you for it.

#35~Don't count to three.  Take care of their behavior before you say 1.  Cars don't care if you are only on number 2 when they run over a runaway child in the street, fire is as hot on 1 as it will be on 3, a knife is just as sharp on 1, and a pool is just as deep.  If your child can obey by "2 1/ better come here," they can obey the first time.  Teach your children first time obedience.  Your requests don't always have the luxury of waiting until 3.

#34~Get up with your husband to see him off to work.  No one likes to walk around a dark quiet house.

#33~On that note, smile at him when he walks in the door...and a genuine one at that.  It's amazing what a smile conveys...even if your day has been hard.  Chances are...his was hard too.

#32~Clean feet before getting into bed makes you sleep better...a whole bath is better but at the very least, the feet.  Not sure if this is a proven fact, but I can not go to bed with dirty feet.

#31~I bleed maroon.  Texas A&M is my favorite place on earth.

#30~The sound of a jet spooling up can make me cry.

#29~There's not much sweeter than a child's prayer.

#28~When you do have to discipline your children, make sure you always tell them you are only doing it because you care about the young man/woman they become.  Say, "I love you too much to let you behave this way."  The Bible says that a parent that doesn't discipline, hates their child.  I want them to know, they are my job.  It is my job to teach and train them.

#27~It's my job to work myself out of a job.

#26~When your sons do something helpful or kind, tell them how much one day their wife will love and appreciate them when they do that.

#25~Teach your girls that a lady never purposely draws attention to herself.. in the way she dresses, acts, talks, etc.

#24~Teach your girls to make kissing knees when they sit down, to have self-control, and to speak like a lady.  Never buy them a dress that they can't sit like a lady...even if they are sitting like a lady.

#23~Sometimes a bowl of "fun cereal" at night is the perfect end to a hard day.

#22~Teach your boys and girls how to clean a bathroom, make a simple meal, do laundry.

#21~Boys should hold doors open for girls, older people, ....and generally anyone.

#20~Children should look adults in their eyes when they are speaking to them and should not interrupt an adult conversation.  You don't have to teach them yes ma'am and no sirs, but please teach them not to say, "Yea."

#19~I love to see red-faced, sweaty boys working in yards to earn summer money.  It teaches them responsibility and not to shy away from hard work.

#18~Home should be a child's safe place to land...and your man's.

#17~Baseball games and dance recitals are more fun to watch if you see your own sweet faces up there.

#16~My love and appreciation for my mother grows with every passing day and moment.

#15~Coffee is God's gift to my mornings. Even better coffee and my Bible on my front porch in the fall.  I love it.

#14~My marriage was instantly sweeter, stronger, and more fun once I learned that every thought in my head doesn't have to come out of my mouth.  I'm busy teaching my 14 year old the same thing.

#13~I secretly love my June Bug.  Thanks to my little sister Megan.

#12~A run is so much more fun with your oldest sister.

#11~God has blessed me with four best friends in my life (not counting my sisters or hubby) when I was 6, one my sophomore year at A&M, one when we started TBS and one in our first squadron.  One has passed away, one forgave me for a stupid choice of mine in high school and our friendship is stronger because of it, one walked me through every moment of college, and one just gets me, still.  I don't talk to any of them near enough but when we do, it's like we never missed a day.

#10~I love making cookies.

#9~Yellow cake and chocolate frosting can only truly be enjoyed with your three sisters.  Just once in your life, lick the frosting out of the tub in the parking lot of the grocery store.  Don't tell anyone.  Watch their faces when they go to frost the cake. I love my three sisters. Each of them for such different reasons.

#8~As soon as your eyes open in the morning, praise and thank God for allowing another day to begin.  No matter what you face that day.  No day is promised but everyday is a gift.

#7~Read bedtime stories to your kids.  Even when they're 14.  The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is so much more fun enjoyed together.

#6~Being late is one of my biggest pet peeves.

#5~For that matter, so are mean people.

#4~I have learned the hard way some people will not forgive.  As far as it depends on me, I am at peace with everyone I know; it took me years to do that but I have.  I have apologized, asked for forgiveness, and waited.  I can't control then what they do beyond that.

#3~My life is sweeter by the 5 people God has placed in my home.  I love my four kids.  I truly LIKE my husband.  My house has laughter and fun.  It's not always perfect and we have our moments, but my life is sweet.  And I am thankful.

#2~I am a blood-bought, born again child of God.  Jesus Christ is my life.  I want that statement to be true of my thoughts, words, and actions every day.  At the end of my life, I hope that is what they say about me....oh and that I loved my husband and loved my kids.

#1~I am joyful.  In my heart, I am joyful.  Today, I am thankful to be 41.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Jitter's Purpose

Jitter Bug
January 2012-August 2013

"But WHY did she have to die, Mom?"

The questions had been coming since Jitter's passing Friday night.  The conversations had been easy, sweet, and comforting.  There were many hugs, lots of tears, and funny stories.  Who knew a small, Chinese dwarf hamster could have meant so much to a 9 year old little girl.  

We said goodbye to Jitter Bug Friday night.  After discovering a large tumor under her chin on Thursday, watching her suffer through the night and next day, her passing was a relief in many ways.  But it still did not make it easy for a little girl who had loved this hamster.  

God is good though and the conversations that followed were sweet.  We talked so much about death, our fallen world, our sin, our faith in Jesus Christ, and heaven.  We pondered on how it must have been in the garden and how God never intended for this kind of death and suffering to be a part of His Creation and how it would all be right again in Heaven.  All of these questions of the "why," of Jitter's death were so easy for me to answer. 

It wasn't until the "what" question, did she cause me to sit and ponder.

"What was Jitter's purpose Mom?  If everything has a purpose, what was hers?" 

I had never really bonded with Jitter.  She was too much like a rodent and she nibbled on fingers in her first few weeks of being a Fitzgerald.  I knew I was done with her then.  Lillie Grace had asked for a hamster for several months and when her 8th birthday rolled around, her Daddy knew exactly what to get her.  Enter Jitter Bug Fitzgerald.  At first, she was a novelty and all four kids loved her, played with her, and were fascinated by her.  One by one though the newness wore off, for everyone except Lil.  She loved Jitter and would play with her for hours.  She loved to put her in her ball and watch her roll outside in the grass.  She made obstacle courses for her to run through and she knew her favorite treats such as grapes and cucumbers.  It was her responsibility to clean her cage each week, check her food and water, and make sure she had time outside of her cage to play.  Lillie took her job very seriously.  She never failed to remember when a week had passed, she played with her daily, and talked to her constantly.  Jitter had grown fond of Lillie too and Lillie had the only hands she would not bite.  Lillie could hold her for hours and Jitter would be very content.  

What was her purpose?  Simple.  For Lillie.

God used Jitter to grow my sweet girl.  She matured in so many ways taking care of this sweet, big-eyed rodent....ahem...hamster.  God used her to teach Lillie responsibility.  Jitter was cared for better then I ever could've.  In the beginning, when I took responsibility for the cleaning of her cage, I often forgot.  I would've gone weeks had it not been for sweet reminders from my girl.  Jitter taught Lillie a softer side of herself.  My brave, independent girl needed someone to be dependent on her.  Someone was counting on her and for the first time she had to think of someone other than herself.  She learned how much her siblings loved her.  One cried with her, one wrote her a poem and drew a picture, and one provided the hug she needed at just the right moment.  She honored God in the way she cared for one of His creatures.  She learned about life....and about death.  She learned that somethings can't be fixed.  She learned that sometimes the hurt in loving something is worth the time spent loving.  Her eyes were opened to the reality that everyone around her has an end and to spend what time she has loving those around her.  Jitter had a purpose.  I can't know every purpose God had planned in bringing Jitter into the Fitzgerald family, but He's allowed me to see some.  

As I pondered these things on the front steps with my first born girl, I was thankful for the little rodent.  I was thankful that she had been allowed to be a Fitzgerald and that Jitter would forever be a part of Lillie's memory.  Before I could voice any of these realizations....

"I know her purpose Mom."

I looked into her tear filled eyes.

"She needed to know how Fitzgerald's love."

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Open Eyes and a New Life

April 24, 2000-Logan and I saw him off from the Savannah airport.  Very different from the last two goodbyes, there were no tears shed.  I had shed my last.  I had none left.  He was leaving to return from a two week R&R back in the states to the Western Pacific.  It had been such a hard visit for both of us.  I was jaded, alone, and hopeless.  I couldn't believe this was now my life.  My eyes had been opened from the wonder-filled, young Marine wife, to the bitter, lonely single mother.  The new life sitting next to me had opened my eyes to the path my life had taken and what I felt lay ahead.  Loneliness.  Goodbyes.  Long nights. Deployments.  Drinking.  Deployment stories.  Everything seemed to be swirling around me.  This was not the glamorous life I had envisioned.  Married to an f18 pilot.  The fast life.  The fun.  The parties.  It all seemed to be an extension of college.  Until this new little life showed up.  Logan Patrick Fitzgerald.    He made me pause for the first time.  He stopped me in my tracks and I felt the question pierce my heart, "What are we doing?"  What was I doing?  This isn't what I wanted for him, for me.  Patrick left when he was 6 weeks old.  Came home at 3 months.  Left 6 months later.  I was a single mother. 12 hours from my family and a lifetime away from my husband.  I didn't want this fast paced party lifestyle.  I was done.  I was done with the Marines.  I was done with Beaufort. I was done with pilots. I was done with him.  I had all but come to the conclusion I didn't want to be here when he got home.

April 25, 2000-Found myself at a playgroup on base.  My best friend was home visiting and most of these women were just acquaintances.  Not really sure why I went then.  I know now.  Logan and I were sitting alone and I was faintly aware of the conversation behind me.  A girl I knew only from the neighborhood was sharing with another wife how she knew she would spend eternity in heaven.  I remember the shocked answer from the wife across from her, "That's kind of arrogant don't you think?"  Her's?  "It would be arrogant if I had done something, but it is only because of what Jesus did FOR me."  I don't remember much more but I do remember the joy I sensed from her.  She had such a peaceful way about her that I was drawn to.  I left very intrigued by her statement but still very much alone.

April 28, 2000~I was crying again.  I had been crying the whole morning.  I didn't know what was wrong.  I hadn't talked to Patrick.  I was so very alone.  Logan was in the living room in the middle of the floor playing but I didn't want to go near him.  I was so scared.  I didn't know what to do.  I had hit rock bottom.  When my phone rang, I remember praying it was my husband but the person on the other end would change the whole direction of my world.  It was Ann Yingst.  The very woman from the playgroup.  I remember her telling me she searched to find my number, she knew we didn't know each other very well, but that I had been on her heart all week and was there anything she could pray for me?  I broke down crying.  I remember telling her everything about our visit, how I was feeling, and how I desperately wanted out of this lifestyle.  Her next question not only shocked me but was exactly what I needed to hear.  She asked me if I knew Jesus as my Savior.  Normally this question would send me reeling about how yes, I went to church, yes, I knew Jesus, and yes, I was a good church going person.  But on this day, I wanted more.  My heart was aching to hear what she would say.  She simply and gently walked me through the plan of salvation.  She shared the Gospel.  That Christ died for my sins, He was buried and He rose again.  All of this muck.  All of this hurt.  All of this loneliness was because of sin.  Sin that would separate me from a relationship with my Father.  I remember listening and as she talked my eyes were opened.  It was like the blinders were pulled off.  There was such a joy and a release.  I remember kneeling right there in the kitchen asking God to forgive me and asking Jesus Christ to be my Savior.  "What do I do now?"  "Grow.  God wants you to know Him."  I got in my car and drove around the corner to her house and sobbed as she hugged me and kept telling me over and over, "You have a new life."  My problems didn't go away.  My loneliness did.  My desire to give up did.  My hopelessness did.  On this day my eyes were opened and God gave me a new life.

13 years later.  I am married to a godly man.  I have two sons who are growing in their personal relationship with their Savior.  My oldest daughter has accepted Christ and shows such a want to to learn about Him.  My youngest daughter believes as much as she knows to and I pray for her daily to let it be real.  I am so thankful.