Watch the Sky

The other day, I took a quick solo drive to the out-of-town public library to grab Micah some more difficult chapter books per his request.  Our local library is closed for repairs and due to parking issues, I prefer driving out of town anyhow, especially if I get to do it alone.

No work, no doctor appointments, no urgent tasks to complete other than purging before another (mini) family member joins.  Not having to rush from point A to point B or respond to urgent emails, running no other errand than the library run was rejuvenating.

I admired the spring flowers on our block as I walked to fetch our car.

Minutes later, I was driving on the highway with zero traffic, sun shining bright, when this ditty came on the radio:

If you wanna go and take a ride wit me
We three-wheelin in the fo’ with the gold D’s
Oh why do I live this way? (Hey, must be the money!)

HEY!  Must be the money!  I could imagine my girlfriends from two decades ago riding with me, turning up the volume and laughing.  Even in present day mini-van with our garish McDonald’s Happy Meal emoji hanging from our rearview mirror, I felt 20-something and extra grateful for the day.

Grateful for breath, my life and the life pop-lockin’ inside of me.  Grateful for the sudden surge of energy this week, after last week’s sluggishness where I would just have the kids gather ’round me in my bed.  Then another great song came on:

I am a flower quickly fading,
Here today and gone tomorrow.
A wave tossed in the ocean.
A vapor in the wind.
Still You hear me when I’m calling.
Lord, You catch me when I’m falling.
And You’ve told me who I am.
I am Yours, I am Yours.

Who am I, that the eyes that see my sin
Would look on me with love and watch me rise again?
Who am I, that the voice that calmed the sea
Would call out through the rain
And calm the storm in me?

Life truly is about the simple things.  A solo drive.  No traffic.  Two great songs on the radio.

The night before, I needed to konk out after staying up too late to review some boring, time-sensitive documents (adult life).  I could have drifted into dreamland right then but I felt jipped of my sacred, quiet time after kids had gone to bed.  So I left my lamp on so that I could read just one exquisite short story from my new library book.  I reread certain passages and it was time well spent.  It felt like a square of fine dark chocolate or hot red tea after a meal.  Recalibrated my brain.

This reminds me to add a simple joy to my day in the raw postpartum days to come, when hormones are off from nursing while adjusting to the new normal of a helpless little babe completely dependent on me.

My parents did not appear to value self-care.  They believed that they could not afford to, that it was a wasteful luxury just for the unencumbered upper crust folks with margins in their lives.  Or maybe that’s what they told themselves as it was too painful to admit even to themselves that they could use some sweet time just to exhale and enjoy life.

I don’t fault them for this way of thinking as they had to work as much as possible to pay for life’s necessities.  They didn’t get to collect a paycheck from some air-conditioned office.

I used to follow my parents’ standards as an excuse for why I, too, thought self-care was fluffy and for folks who weren’t diligent and hard-working enough.  I went so far as to judge those who prioritized self-care in a way that was foreign to me, coming from my background.

“Another massage?  Another date night?  Didn’t you just come back from vacation?  How ’bout you take a break from taking a break?”  But now I see that my parents would have fared better had they not just worked all the time, had they somehow carved out small pockets of leisure.

When my mom owned a small gift shop in Panorama City, CA, working at least six days a week, ten hours a day, she would comment that the moment she heated up her lunch, customers would barge in.  And nine out of ten times, these would be annoying customers, those who would ask the price of her whole inventory with their eagle eyes and too many extended family members in tow, and then leave without a single purchase.  This is why to this day, I don’t like going into someone’s small business or vendor booth just to look, chitchat, or merely compliment an item without buying.

My mom would sometimes feel chained to her store. Once, when I was in high school and visiting the store, she sighed and said, “Sometimes, I wish I could just run across the street and lie down on that patch of grass, just roll around and look at the sky.”

I now wish I had insisted that she do just that.  Go right on across Roscoe Blvd., Umma, and lie down on that patch of grass in front of the old drive-in movie theater.  Exhale.  Watch the sky.  Watch the clouds drift.  Grab a cold beverage.  Think about something that makes you laugh.  I got you.

I remembered this when I was in Bryant Park last summer, and I purposely lie down on the grass in the middle of my day.  A homeless man was to my left, damp green grass under me, and the blue sky above me.

I am going to create more “Watch the Sky” moments.  Priceless.

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We are not to walk on the courtyard grass but I just had to get close to these beauties.  They looked like they were made of pink Kleenex.

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I mean, they were bigger than my kids’ faces.  Nature is astounding.

Diverted by Marshawn Lynch

It’s May 1st!  A brand new month.  Exciting month ahead for our family.  Hopefully, baby won’t arrive this month as this is the month prior to the expected due date.  I take “due date” with a grain of salt as both boys arrived early.  May will be filled with lots of anticipation, checklists, doc appointments and hopefully rest, too.  During Sunday service, I couldn’t keep the tears from flowing from my jaw down to my clothes as I *still* can’t believe that I get to do this all over again.

On a TOTALLY different note:  I relate to Larry David’s character on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” way too much.  I recognize that so much of what I sweat is “small stuff” but I had a lightbulb moment last week.  I sometimes want to pause on the trifling happenings of life to allow my mind to drift from the actual meaty stuff:  adult decisions and responsibilities.

Flashback to last Wednesday at my o.b. appointment.  I take the elevator to the 11th floor with just one other person.  The man seems restless and preoccupied as he tries to exit the elevator unchivalrously before me, practically clipping me, so in true Larry David fashion, I maneuver my girth so that I can exit before him.

I sit down in the waiting room and look all around at the Upper East side patients and think, “So boojie, mmm.  So much privilege up in here.  Blech!”  (And yes, I know that I am at least partly one of them as much as I try to claim “Other.”)  That is when I notice that the man from the elevator is talking to the receptionist and soon, addressing the large waiting room:

“Excuse me.  Someone here got a ride from me and did not pay me.  Who was it?  Who took a ride from me and did not pay me?”

Everyone peered down at their precious phones as if they were Cinderella’s Magic Mirror revealing the future, and ignored him completely.  He repeated the announcement:

“Someone here did not pay me after they got a ride from me.  Who was it?”

People continued to ignore him.  While his announcement made folks uncomfortable, it was not delivered in a scary manner.  He was just a brown man trying to get paid for his services, hunting down his boojie customer who stole from him.

I started feeling my emotional buttons getting pushed from this man being completely ignored, even though I knew nothing about the customer and whether she was privileged and wealthy, taking advantage of the cab driver.

I responded loud enough for him and the room to hear:  “Sorry, man.  I took the subway here so it wasn’t me.  Good luck!”

He walked out of our waiting room to the adjoining doctor’s office, presumably to make the same announcement.  The man just needed to get paid and I felt for him.  I also flashbacked to when customers stole from my parents.

The second he left, one of the phone-staring ignorers, an older White lady, promptly got up out of her seat to tattle to the receptionist, “He didn’t go downstairs.  He just went to the next office.”  So the receptionist had to act as security to tell him that he must raise up and wait in the lobby, not here in the doctors’ offices.

Just then, a White husband who had his pregnant wife’s feet on his lap the whole time, exclaimed, while still staring at his phone:  “What!?  Marshawn Lynch…!”

He and his wife were called to be seen by the doctor and I noticed he had on a blazer with elbow patches.  I judged some more.

As a post-doctor appointment treat, Kevin and I met for lunch.  I told him about how incensed I felt when everyone ignored the cab driver in our boojie waiting room.  Kevin said that he, too, would have ignored the guy because he didn’t take no ride from him.  Kevin laughed and said, “Maybe you responded because you felt like you had to defend yourself since you always have to explain yourself?”

I explained, “No, I responded because he deserved to be heard by SOMEONE, even though I wasn’t the fare-jacker.  And guess what?  When I saw the older White lady report him after ignoring him the whole time and then that Elbow Patch exclaiming about Marshawn Lynch?!  I got all crazy inside.  I wanted to go fight him and say, ‘If Marshawn Lynch drove a cab and asked you boojies if someone made off without paying him, you would totally ignore his ass too if he were a nameless man of color.  But because he Marshawn Lynch, you dare to exclaim his name while seated here amongst the pregnants.  Man, shut up!  Don’t ever utter Marshawn name again, Elbow Patches!”

“And then, I started Googling ‘Marshawn Lynch’ instead of looking up the checklist for what this particular o.b. appointment should entail.  I think I just like diversions, the more trifling the better!”

All this to say that everyone has their coping mechanisms.  When seated in front of my husband to discuss Adult Decisions, I suddenly had to talk about Marshawn Lynch outburst.  When we have to make important decisions, Kevin becomes more logical and focused and can’t be bothered with the trifling.  I subconsciously seek out tangents and treasure troves of trifling to take a breather from the adult ish.  What is your funky way of coping with adult life?

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So, Jihee, where do you want to raise our kids?  And you must decide by the end of lunch…

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I need to tell you what happened in the waiting room today.

 

 

Musings in the March Snow

While we were in Orlando, my 96 year-old down-the-hall neighbor, Charlie, passed away.  We missed the funeral because we didn’t see the memo until we belatedly checked our tiny mailbox.

Charlie was the neighbor who came up to me a few years ago while I was running out to take out the trash.  His wife had just passed away and his grief was raw.  He hadn’t planned to come up to this Mama down the hall but the grief was so overwhelming that he shared with someone he had never spoken to before – “I just lost my wife.  We were married for ____ years.  I don’t know what to do.”

I dropped my trash and gave him a huge hug as tears escaped from both our eyes.  I told him later that sometimes I take my baby to Forest Hills Park and that he can walk with us but he was too frail.  I kept seeing him around with his full-time caregiver and dutiful son.

I ran into his son on Queens Blvd. while walking to the boys’ school this week and I grabbed his forearm to tell him how sorry we were for his loss.  His 60 something(?) year-old son had shared with me once, “I don’t know how family live so far away from each other.  I am so close to both my parents and always lived a building away from them.”

He told me that he was present at both his parents’ deaths and that they parted while holding his hand.

Growing up, I knew that my dad equated success with being a world traveler and adventurer.  He immigrated to the U.S. after falling in love with it on a business trip.  He always said that children should go far away for college instead of being sheltered and fearful, only confident at home.

He was disappointed when I didn’t get into Harvard.  I applied, for his sake, Early Admissions and got Early Rejected.  He never hid the fact that he thought my going away “just” to UC Berkeley, a one hour flight away from home / six hour drive, was not grand enough.

And because I always chase (chased?) after my dad’s approval, I believed the same.

But when I spent a few minutes talking to my recently deceased neighbor’s son on the street this week, I realized that my beliefs have changed.

After the boys go to sleep and Kevin and I get to unwind, one of us can’t resist going back into their tiny room to gaze at or squeeze them, especially after an episode of “This is Us.”  It’s like having a cartoon rotisserie chicken asleep on the bottom bunk, and a scrumptious pork belly slider tucked in in the top bunk.  Irresistible.

I no longer define success as globe-trotting  and being as far away from family though I drool at my globe-trotting friends’ adventures in lands I have to Google.  I would love for my rotisserie chicken and crispy pork children to traipse the entire globe…then return to home base to share as much of their lives with me as they will allow.

I will be waiting.

RIP neighbor Charlie.  I am so glad that Art had the privilege of holding your hand as he ushered you into eternity.

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Flipping the Script on Envy

As I’ve shared before, I am euphoric when pregnant.  I imagine soundtracks playing as I subway to work or walk in the frozen tundra to pick up the chil’ren:

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed Be Your name
Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

I feel like I won the lotto to be able to experience this all over again even with a growing, peach-fuzzy stomach,

linea negra faint black line down my belly,

gagging while brushing teeth,

burping on the drive to church and being shocked by more than a burp,

and popping Tums for dessert night after night.

However, I am still a three-dimensional human being and find myself struggling with envy even during this abundant season of verdant pastures.

Pastor Rankin Wilbourne once shared that he would never be envious of Kobe Bryant’s basketball skills.  He is more susceptible to becoming envious of another pastor whose church is flourishing in a way his church is not.  I get that.

I’m not envious of most things because I couldn’t care less.  You thinner than me?  Congrats!  So are many.  I don’t care.  I want to eat more empanadas.

You have a great science mind while I was happy to earn my “B” in AP Bio?  Cool – maybe you can drop science on my kids one day while I watch Wendy Williams.

You have a fat salary but have to work crazy hours?  That’s great that you have that drive but for me, for now, no thanks.

However, there are wounds I carry and if you are blessed in those areas, I feel the wounds getting picked at again, or at least my armpits getting sweaty.  Currently, we are blessed enough to have four living grandparents for our children.  But all four of them are not geographically available and three of them are not available in the way I yearn for.  I also don’t have a dad who can pour into my life.  THESE ARE SOME RAW WOUNDS.

As abundantly blessed as I am, when I see doting grandparents, I tear up.  When I see my friends get affirmed by their dads even at our mature ages, I cry.  (Hell, I’m crying now, typing this).

I want my kids to know and FEEL that other than their loving but imperfect Dad and affectionate but limited Mom who still hates to cook, there are a couple others who love them to pieces and would sacrifice for them, not just connect on the phone once in a blue moon.

But I don’t stay sad because my default emotion is anger.  I spew out and release my “Fuck Yous.”  I don’t actually hate on my friends with blessings in this area because they handle their blessings with gratitude and grace, but when an innocent stranger posted on a FB Mom group about how both sets of grandparents watch her kids, NEVER LEAVING HER ALONE WITH THEM, and how one of them dared to ask for carseats for their own car so that they can go on adventures with their grandchildren, I had to bite my tongue because I want to say, “FUCK YOU VERY MUCH YOU FUCKING PRINCESS!”

Everything is relative.  I KNOW THIS IN MY HEAD but my heart ain’t feelin’ it at times.

Someone could very well be thinking the same of me as Kevin does the heavy lifting in our household.  In that way, I am pampered and ever grateful.  But he also does this heavy lifting partially because he knows I have NO ONE ELSE and that it grieves his emotional wife.  People have advised that I look for friends or “spiritual family” to lean on but I don’t dare lean on non-relatives when I know their plates are full, too.  And frankly, friends have their own extended REAL families.

I also think about my friends and what they must struggle with.  Friends who have suffered baby losses while they see pregnants all around.  Friends whose kids have received diagnoses while they see neurotypical kids going about their regular school schedules.  Friends who pray for a spouse.  Friends who pray for healing of their illnesses.  Friends who beg God for a baby.

HOW DO I/THEY FIND PEACE in our respective areas of need!?  I know one solution is to stay in our own lanes and be grateful for everything we do have.  But I need something more because in this real world, we don’t live in a bubble and we can’t help but notice each others’ lanes.

I want to grapple with envy in a different way.  I don’t wanna become Bitter Miss Fuck You or only want to play with people who have my exact same struggles.  I will protect and distance myself from folks who subconsciously enjoy being the object of my envy because they feel elevated from my raw confessions that I wish I had what they have.

Lord, give me tools to flip the script on envy.  I know that it is not a single battle but a life-long journey but mature me in this area and teach me to deal with this in a healthy manner, and not resort to anger.  Please guide me when the going gets tough and I hear Satan whisper in my ear, “Bet you wouldn’t be struggling if you had grandparents around like so many of your friends!”

I will hold you to this verse I love for 2017 – please spring forth a new thing within me:

Isaiah 43: 19 (NIV):  See I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

(photos of my blessings below)

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Me being held by my beautiful Mama Love, who may be geographically unavailable but emotionally available and still wrestles with her grandchildren because it makes them squeal

1.9.17 Rejoicing and Weeping

You know that important phone call from the doc’s office that you’ve been awaiting?  It’ll only come through once you’ve cracked an egg onto the sizzling fry pan or sat on the toilet.

Pregnancy is a lesson in waiting.  When I was newly pregnant with Micah, I bled a little.  I had read that blood can be a sign of miscarriage so I frantically called my doctor.  He was not a touchy feely dude, though apparently very good at what he did.  While Kevin and I were holding hands in his office, hanging on to his every word, he explained, “Hey, if the baby isn’t healthy, it’s nature’s way of eliminating a bad embryo.”  Our eyes widened so he added, “Or it might just be some spotting.  Some old blood.”  We prayed and awaited tests to come in the next day.

I remember praying, “Lord, this phone call is not my Savior, not my lifeline.  I only have one Savior.  But oh please oh please may this embryo turn into a fetus and then into a healthy baby boy.  Please gift us with a healthy baby boy though I am not entitled to one.”

A wise friend met me during my lunch break to pass along some pregnancy books and I told him how scared I was and how I don’t think I can handle all the uncertainty for the duration of my first pregnancy.  He shared that his wife and others also had some spotting and that it doesn’t always mean miscarriage.  He also reminded me that pregnancy is all about ceding control.  Giving it up to Him, every step of the way.

Pregnancy is a series of tests, literally.  The phone call that came in today as soon as I cracked my egg onto my fry pan was that Belly Baby tested low-risk for spina bifida (great result).  There will be more tests to come – for me and for Baby.  All part of the journey.  Especially for those of us at an Advanced Maternal Age.

The sermon from our pastor yesterday reminded us to ask ourselves what is God trying to teach us in our particular stage of life.  For at least the past couple years, we were consumed by whether we are done having kids.  Actually, scratch that:  *I* was consumed, and Kevin was at peace with being done, if only his wife wouldn’t keep talking about The Yearning.

We are now blessed with this baby, no longer a What If but a real human baby moving around on that sonogram, due to arrive June 2017, yet there are moments where I am scared.  Especially those moments when folks comment, “Wow, was this planned!?  You guys are BRAVE!”

Gulp!

Factors that were obstacles still remain:  no family around to help, we are still in NYC for better or for worse, we are older and more tired while the boys only get louder and more energetic, we need to grow our income, not diminish it indefinitely.  As Kevin was falling asleep one night to the tune of my mentioning The Yearning once again, he broke it down clearly:

“If we have another kid, Jihee-yah, it will shave off five years of my life span.”

And yet, here we are.  Back to this stage in our lives, where we have no choice but to cede all control over to Him.  Regarding the health of Mama and Baby, financial provision as we absolutely must move to bigger space (no more delaying), and more.  Do we really trust Him or do we only trust Him for a result?

In 2016 as well as this New Year, we’ve heard the sad news of loss among a handful of friends.  As friends and fellow parents with similarly-aged children, we feel the weight of their loss.  We truly do grieve with them.  Howling, sometimes, when we hear new news of another loss.  And we do confess that our faith falters and I can’t trust that His ways are higher.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”  Romans 12:15 ESV

In the previous post announcing our baby #3 news, I ended by saying that I don’t believe in TMI but I think I do for now.  How can I share details of our conception and pregnancy journey when friends are hurting?  So for now, I take pause on our story.  It just doesn’t feel right.

Once I surprised Kevin with our baby news when I officially confirmed the existence of baby on the morning of my 40th birthday, I teased him, “Hey, you sure you happy?  You did say you gonna die five years earlier if we have another baby!  What say you now!?”

Kevin sheepishly spoke right into my belly:  “Daddy didn’t need those five years anyway.”

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Gathering Together

I have no idea what I’m going to end up writing.  I just know that I must write.

This past Saturday, we woke up to a white courtyard.  Snow-covered everything.  The boys squealed and begged to go outside to throw snowballs at each other.  We wanted to acquiesce especially because snowfall would soon turn into rainfall but we had a big day ahead and we could not afford to be late.

We were headed to the memorial service of our friends’ beloved newborn son.  The dramatic weather conditions were appropriate for this loss.  I felt like the Earth was dealing with this loss by coughing up its own fury and tears, all kinds of snow and rain to mark this final goodbye as we carefully braved the highway to see our friends.

FALL DOWN HARDER, I thought to myself.

I will always wonder what Baby ______ is doing in heaven whenever I see snow.

However, this is not my story to tell.  All I can add is that we were blessed by our friends’ hearts and honest expression of love and grief.  And their hope in Jesus Christ while STILL IN THE FIRE.

We then drove in the rain to NJ to celebrate another friend’s baby’s 1st birthday in Korean doljanchi feast fashion.  From there, we drove on to another friend’s house for our annual Christmas sleepover and got to meet their new bundle of joy, all cheeks and eyelashes.

We were able to show the kids the hustle and bustle of a NJ mall the week before Christmas, a Christmas light spectacular, and adult friendship.   You kids don’t have a monopoly on playdates!

While I was experiencing heartbreak for my friend in the morning, and then suddenly flung into celebration mode with our other friends, my friend in CA, whose wedding I was missing that very day, sent me photos of her pre-wedding prep.  I was so thrilled for her as she is overcoming some health issues.

Funeral – Korean 1st bday celebration – meeting a new baby – wedding.

Life can be a devastating beast, a real heartbreaker, a bone crusher.  Life can also be beautiful and enthralling, rendering me speechless as I hold a precious baby or watch the kids’ faces light up when Santa and his entourage are escorted in on firetrucks.

Our friend shared Psalm 102 and Psalm 103 at the memorial service. Psalm 102 is a prayer of an afflicted man, when he is faint and pours out his lament before the Lord.  In stark contrast, Psalm 103 is a praise.  Life is both – weeping and gnashing of teeth as well as lifting our hands in praise.

Psalm 102:1-2 (NIV):  “Hear my prayer, Lord; let my cry for help come to you.  Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress.  Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly.”

Psalm 103:1-5 (NIV):  “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.  Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits-who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Like I said, I don’t know what I am trying to express.  I just felt somewhat comforted by the fact that whether we were mourning or celebrating, people had gathered together so that our friends did not have to be alone.  Of course there are times for solitude and reflection, but I am glad that there was this gift of gathering together, for people who care, people who want to cry with you or delight with you.

You never have to be alone while you still have breath in your lungs.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”  – Romans 12:15 (NIV)

“And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.”  – Matthew 18:20 (The Message)

 

 

You Loved Me

As part of what has become somewhat of a Sunday tradition, Kevin made us breakfast on that late October morning.

It was the boys’ first taste of canned corned beef hash.  So bad for you but just once a year, it sho’ does hit the spot.  I even sniffed around for Dinty Moore Beef Stew at our Key Food but (thankfully) they didn’t have it.

As Kevin cooked behind the closed door with the stove fan whirring, I asked the boys if they could recall their dreams from the night before.  I recall every vivid detail each night, while Kevin cannot recall a thing so I wondered who they would take after.  The boys told me some of what they could remember.  I told them that I dreamt of when I was in my 20s, laughing with my girlfriends.

Micah commented, “But we weren’t around then.  Did you miss us in your dream?”  Ellis chimed in, “Yeah!”

[Feeling tears form] “It was long before we ever knew there would be a precious Micah and a precious Ellis.  That young Jihee didn’t know what she was missing!” [Kissing their faces after wiping corned beef hash grease offa my lips].

I had to head out to Manhattan while the boys went to church.  I had (finally) signed up for a photography class through Groupon so that I could learn the basics of my DSLR.  I hate to miss church on any given Sunday but this was the only time slot that would fit my schedule before the colder weather set in.

I packed everything into a huge, 90’s-esque, pink backpack I had found in our closet and made sure I took my red thermos.  It was going to be cold and some of the class was going to be held outside.

Early as usual but once the big class got underway, I took a still-hot sip from the red thermos.  That was the moment I teared up with gratitude.  I felt it warm my body from head to toe, and it wasn’t just the warm liquid in my bones.

I had been fed a savory hot meal by my husband, flanked by two sons who could not fathom a 20-something Mommy before they were glimmers in her eye, and now I was privileged enough to be in a class I had been wanting to take for years, sipping hot barley tea from this red thermos.

Everyday, I know I am loved.  But in that moment, I felt all of it.  I FELT so loved that my eyes leaked.

I don’t even own my own thermos because I didn’t think I’d use one.  This red thermos I keep talking about was passed off to me the night before at our dear friends’ house.  These are friends who have made me challenge the belief of my parents that “only blood will truly be there for you.”  These are friends who make folks feel so at home in their home.

Other folks may have bigger, fancier homes but can also make me feel like I got to walk on eggshells.  I would make sure I am not a burden in any way and when my kids were babies and toddlers, I would make sure I didn’t leave a trace of them anywhere.  The gift of hosting truly is a gift.

As we left that night, my friend knew I was headed to my little photography class and insisted I borrow her thermos.  I kept refusing because I didn’t want to take her stuff.  She wouldn’t take no for an answer as she packed us up some homemade pumpkin pie that her baker sister had baked while we were together.

I had already felt so loved and cared for when she practically made me take her thermos.  I think I love to be bossed around sometimes by loved ones.  I am not the mom or the big sister in those moments.  It makes me feel cared for.

When I started drinking from my friend’s thermos among this motley crew of strangers wanting to learn how to use their cameras, I felt an urge to testify:  I AM SO VERY LOVED.

I can’t include all the other moments from this year alone where I *FELT* so loved because this post is already too long.  But man, those moments are such gifts that I can’t help but raise my hands to the heavens and say, “Thank you!”  Just one example:  When Micah was hospitalized for 2.5 days in May for a severe asthma attack, one of my O.G. friends from Cali reached out to me:  “Of course, we are praying for you but I need to do something more.  Can I please send you a meal?”

Because of our close friendship and the way she didn’t say, “If there’s anything I can do, name it…” (which is also kind but hard for me to ever respond to), I was able to say “yes” without feeling like I was putting her out.  As soon as we were sprung from the hospital, with another good friend driving us home, some of the best Indian food I’ve ever had was brought to us without us ever having to make a single decision about our next meal.

As we approach Thanksgiving this week, I thank God for these You Loved Me moments that make me a rich woman.  Please share your You Loved Me moments!

*And please know that though you may not FEEL it every moment of every day, YOU are so loved.*

You are God’s precious child, a parent’s unique gift (there is no one else like you), a friend’s comfort and delight (quality, not quantity), and a part of this universe’s miraculous story.

Wishing you a Red Thermos Thanksgiving 2016.  You are beloved.