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Posts Tagged ‘#happybirthday’

Happy birthday to our West Coast girl! Born twenty-four years ago … about nine months after we arrived here, to this place we now call home.

But it has always been home for you. The addresses may have changed, the occupants too, but home for you is the west coast, it is where you belong.

I associate your birth with spring, blooming magnolia trees and Easter … these are parts that are always part of your life, your home.

Though you do not live at my home anymore my mother heart will always think that my home is yours too.

I will eagerly make a place at the table, have a blanket ready to cover you as you snooze on my couch or bed, invite you to help trim the tree … all because your moving out on your own does not make you less a part of my home.

When you come to visit, I send you back to your place with food or flowers or goods … because I want to share a little of my home with you.

I plan and plot when I know that you are coming, hoping that you feel at home when you are here.

Honestly, it is never long enough and my selfishness bristles when you’re running late, or have to leave early. But, that is my problem, my expectations and I remind myself that to have you for a little while in my home is blessing. And I am thankful that you’ve come.

You see, when we parents have a home that we have built for our loves we want them to love being here as much as we do. I guess we parents have to learn from nature, from the birds that encourage and even push their birds from the nest they’ve made … because that is the way.

Just days before your birth we celebrated Easter and your presence inside of me brought me different and intimate understanding of the Spirit within us. Though we are the residence or home of the Spirit, it is the risen Jesus who gives us home feels like none other. I remember reading (just days before your birth) “when everything is ready, then I will come and get you, so that you can always be with me where I am” … this is the home without me needing to do any of the preparing, the cooking, the cleaning … I just have to show up, and I will be home.

The magnolia trees outside our home are beginning to prepare to bloom in the warming spring sun. They whisper to me your name, remind me of your pink skin … they remind me of when we brought you home.

May today be the budding of spring in your life. May you know the security, the warmth, the nourishment and the love of home. May you know this, your original home, with your dad and I, always has a door open, a place at the table, a room to rest your head, a warm hug …

love lives here for you.

Happy birthday my west coast girl.

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As the day of your birth approached, I was thinking about the dreams I have had over the years for you, my first born daughter.

Dreams about how you would make the world a better place.

My first, and most grand dream was pretty basic … that you live. For those of us who have known loss before that first breath this basic sign of life becomes the grandest dream.

Actually, it is probably similar to your grandest dreams for those who you work with, as an addictions counsellor … that they might continue to have the breath of life.

I have watched you, heard you share stories from your work … stories that break my heart, leave me with questions that I later pour out in prayer. I hear these stories with ears of a momma … aching for the aching, for what they are missing in life, for the traumas that they have experienced that have led them to such destruction.

I see your heart most clearly when I hear you speak of those you work with in your day (and night) job. I hear your hopes for their futures, I sense the hints of your dreaming for them, for their lives.

And here, in your workplace … whether in your office, or on the streets of a ‘skid row’ (in the middle of the night … ), or over a coffee, or at a park, or as they are coming off a high, or as you administer Naloxone to save their lives …

YOU are making a difference in your world.

Matthew 25 tells us the parable of the sheep and the goats. It is the final parable that Jesus shares (final things said and done should be noted because … they were Jesus final attempt at telling us how to live).

“The King will say to them, `Yes! I tell you that whenever you did these things …

  • filling in forms for people who need help
  • finding a safe place for someone to live, to sleep
  • administering Narcan, in a drive thru, to someone who is turning blue, after overdosing on an opioid … after a long day working in a drug treatment residence
  • taking a kid to get the first food they’ve eaten in days
  • being threatened by someone for supporting a teen girl who needed to leave a dangerous home environment
  • sitting and hearing the woes of an addict, while silently suffering with your own physical pain
  • hearing the stories of sexual abuse of teens by boyfriends, uncles, fathers, brothers, foster parent and on, and on, and on again

… for one of the least important of these, you did them for me!'”

You are living the dream, girl. You have breath in your lungs and you are using what you have been uniquely gifted and called to do, in a way that can change someone’s day, their life, this world.

This work you do it beyond what I had dreamed for you … but not beyond what your Creator made you fully equipped to fulfil.

I am so proud of how you love and help those who in our society are often seen as the least.

Happy birthday sweet girl.

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Twenty one years ago I was only nine years older than you are now, when I pushed, you emerged, took your first breath and wailed.

Where did those twenty-one years go?

All parents ask the question, but the reality is, we know where they went.

They went through all hours of the night for the first weeks. The most precious middle of the night wake ups are when a woman knows it’s the last.

The years were used up living in the imaginary world of Thomas the Tank Engine as well as collecting, building, tearing apart and building with Lego.

They were spent in the pool wearing your ‘pissers’, kicking the can with the neighbor kids, trying to catch the dog as she raced through the field behind our house.

They were passed quickly on the football field, the stage and playing video games late into the night with your fellow gamers, at youth group events and at friend’s houses.

Days, no weeks were spent travelling all the way to Florida … and back, ingesting a daily diet of hot dogs.

Sweet times of ‘snugs ‘n nugs’ with the girls. Giants games or Subway (“eat flesh”) with your dad. Sushi dates with me.

So many shared movies from Marvel to DC to Harry Potter, Star Wars and The Rings.

Drives to camp and back … so many drives down that highway.

Travels to Cannon Beach, Mexico, ALL of the south states, the East Coast, Ontario, New Zealand, Thailand.

Where did those twenty-one years go?

Time flies, my son. In a blink you grew from a newborn to starting kindergarten, to high school graduation, to flying off down under, to right now … where you stand at the cusp of another stage.

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us”

Gandalf

This precious gift of life is filled with an unknown amount of time that we can never recapture. Once it is lived it is in the past … gone.

Colossians 4:5b tells us to “redeem the time” or make the most of your time. See the value of not just your years, but the days, even the minutes. Consider how you will spend your time … for it flies ever so quickly.

Happy 21 … may the next twenty-one be as memory-filled.

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Well, baby girl, this is going to be a different birthday for you … one you will remember and tell your kids and grandkids.

I will deliver your gifts (at an appropriate distance) and probably a McCain Deep’n Delicious cake (because that’s your favorite). You will receive your annual birthday call of Grammie singing Happy Birthday, a birthday gift from Gramma and Grampa added to your bank account (hello Amazon), numerous calls, texts, messages and chats.

But I won’t be able to hold you in my arms, inhale the scent that is you and whisper ‘I love you’ so that just you and your heart hear mine.

As I thought about your twenty-third birthday, I kept coming back to thoughts of the months of expectation, the first days and years after your birth. So many minute and personal details that, perhaps, you don’t know.

It was 1996 when we discovered that we were expecting … again.

Though you are our second child, you were our seventh pregnancy. The losses between the birth of your sister and yourself each broke our hearts, adding layers of calluses that your arrival helped to fade.

We had just moved from Ottawa, Ontario to North Vancouver, BC.

We had gone from home ownership to renting, from established community to everything different, from big sky to tall mountains, from four season to two … summer sun and months of dark monsoons, from quiet suburbia to the nightly echoes of sirens off the nearby mountains, from only a days drive to visit family to a day of flights (and prohibitive costs), from established friendships to knowing only one family (and really it was only your dad who knew them). Everything about life was different!

It wasn’t long, after confirming your existence, that, once again, there were signs that we might never hold you in our arms. Every twinge in my abdomen, every trip to the bathroom could be a catastrophic sign of your demise. Each day was a threshold of celebration and fear.

All was not dark and fearful in those nine months of waiting for your arrival. On New Year’s Eve your dad and I got to hear the Three Tenors (Plácido Domingo, José Carreras, and Luciano Pavarotti). We explored the beauty of the North Shore Mountains, walked with new friends in the sun or the rain, tasted scones and Scottish shortbread that could bring tears to your eyes, learned bits of Afrikaans language, food and hospitality, learned to love living in a diverse and multicultural community and made friends.

You were born the year that Mother Teresa, Princess Diana and James Stewart all died … the year Kylie Jenner and Malala Yousafzai were born. 1997 was the year of the Titanic, George of the Jungle and Air Bud. The year when Caillou and Teletubbies premiered.

You were born blue and silent … silent for what seemed forever, before you discovered the breath of life, the power in your lungs.

It was the Saturday after Easter, on a sunny, warm day, with Magnolia trees fully in their glorious bloom.

We cried, we laughed. Held you close, ran our fingers across the fine copper hairs on your head, face and back. You were quiet and delicate, frail. You would stretch and wriggle as if needing to work the kinks out. We were in deep love and appreciation.

Your sister arrived soon after, with eyes of love and adoration (and intent on leading you all the days of your life).

You loved people from the very beginning. Young and old … all people. You wooed the elderly with your acceptance of them.

And then were the creatures … any creature would do and you wanted to touch them all.

And the painting and crafting and creating … always an endless supply of refrigerator door art at my disposal, from you!

You were born, in a hospital encircled by magnolias. Like them, you were delicate, soft, gentle to the eye … but what they and you are made of, on the inside, is strong structure that scaffolds your life. It is the fragility of who you were made to be that makes you strong, capable, fearless …

lose that scaffolding and you will lose your life’s greatest strength.

“Oh, we are not as strong
As we think we are
We are frail
We are fearfully
And wonderfully made”

Rich Mullins (We are not as Strong as We Think we Are)

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If I think back, I can remember the moments. Answers to prayers prayed in the early hours are those memories of holding you on the sofa, by the pitch black night sky, listening to you drink your fill, smiling at your soft-skinned face, your infant head cupped in my hand. I remember saying to our Creator, begging of him, please burn this moment into my memory,

please do not let me forget this babe in my arms, when he grows up.

Scraped knees, after school snuggles, swims in the pool, football games, too many superhero movies to count, thousands of Lego pieces (all over the house), stinky teenage boy smells (yours and all your friends), shared love of chocolate and sushi, a week each summer together at camp, deep theological talks and here we are … twenty years since those feedings in the early morning hours.

Twenty says adult like no other birthday. It says it even more loudly when the birthday boy is making adult decisions … on his own. Owning up to those decisions … whether preparing for a big trip or paying a big bill.

And that is what you are, my baby boy … an adult. Gone are the days of cries for mom, gone are the days when I was the go-to for your every earthly concern … and that is just as it should be.

I am thrilled and proud of how you are adulting. I am particularly pleased that you are learning to make no promises of perfection, but you are owning up to the mistakes, the struggles, the challenges. Mister, if you could master this early in your adulting, the rest of your years will be so much richer.

I will cherish those memories with you as a babe, but I cherish even more who you are choosing to be, how you are choosing to live.

Other than I love you (I love you, I love you), there is no better message to leave you with, this birthday, than the one that haunted me throughout my entire pregnancy with you:

“Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
    his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
    and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
    and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint
.”

Isaiah 40:28-31

Now, adult son, go run that race.

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18517956_10155072239395590_9048810510230076221_oYou are the one that reminds me how old I am, how long since I could sleep late into the day, how long I have been called mama, mom, mummy.

You were the first that I whispered I love you, wondering how it was possible, if it was possible to love you as I did, as I do. You were the first to leave to go off to preschool, to sleepovers, to the other side of the county, to a little apartment in another town.

You are first that the still small voice whispered, keeps whispering, let her go because letting go is the only way to hold close.

You dare to be brave, leaping to save others in the deep end of a pool, in a group home, a home of recovering addicts, even in the parking lot of McDonalds with Narcan kit in hand.

You have both a love of the way things have always been done and a desire to do things differently, better. Your idealism makes my heart skip a beat, for it echos within me, and I remember how it can make you explode with energy and determination to make a difference, and I know that years can decrease that energy and deplete that determination like a balloon with a small leak.

People say you are my image bearer, but that is only skin deep. It is your dad who courses through your veins, and it is he who inspires you … it’s written all over that determination you have to change the lives of others, for the better. And that’s okay, because, like your dad, you are unselfish to your calling,

You make me think, you challenge me, you make me proud.

Though I am immensely proud of what you do, what you have done, I will always love you for who you are … body, mind and soul. That trinity of being that gives the most but also needs the most nourishment, time and care … please care for all three, for they (you) do not exist without them, together.

I love you, daughter of mine, and I wish you the sweetest of days to just be thankful for life and breath.

 

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IMG_4033It’s official! I no longer have any ‘children’, for my baby turns nineteen today.

But this is not about me 😉

You were and will always be my best surprise, just what our family needed most, but didn’t know it.

And now you turn nineteen, and in so many ways today signifies your independence, your autonomy as an adult, a man.

The thing is we don’t become adults by awakening to the day of our birth, we become adults by, as the Bible says, “putting childish things aside” (1 Corinthians 13:11).

When I think of you, of your birthday, I cannot help but think of how the past year was one of putting many childish things aside … not necessarily by choice.

In a year you have accepted the transition from high school as final, the understanding of what it is to work a job, pay rent and look after your own needs, but there were other circumstances that pushed you to choose to be an adult.

You have also experienced the unexpected death of a peer, moving from your childhood home, the loss of a church community and the illness of your dad.

Through these very real changes and struggles you have had to choose how you would respond, and it is through your responses to these changes that I have seen and admired your metamorphosis as you transition into adulthood.

The main thing you did was talk. You chose wise and caring people and you shared your inner burdens, rather than keep them inside.

You also acknowledged that there are some things you cannot control, and so you have to acknowledge limits to what you can do, for a person or within a circumstance.

You have shown compassion and care, irrespective of it being reciprocated.

My son, you have accomplished much this past year!

1 Corinthians 13:11 says,

“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

Then, along comes verse 12, and it is like the carrot before the cart, the incentive for hauling the, sometimes, heavy load (of adulthood):”

“For now we see in a mirror, darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.”

Each opportunity we have to choose adulthood (or not) leads us into a future where the pieces fit together, where the whys of life might be answered, where our past might make more sense.

So, young man, continue in your pursuit of adulthood, and, while you are heading in that direction, don’t forget to take joy along with you.

“The time has come to make a choice
And I choose joy

 

” ‘Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you’ is the greatest phrase ever written. If everyone followed that creed, this world would be a paradise.”
STAN LEE

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A couple of weeks ago, driving down a Vancouver street a vision of delicate pink hues caught my eye and took me twenty years into the past.

It was an early Pacific West Coast spring. The air warming the Earth, the air and the hearts of the locals.

Screen Shot 2017-03-12 at 9.38.18 AMAs I looked outside my window the sky was the brightest blue, and the street lined with so many pink blossoms that I felt I could almost smell their scent through the window.

The magnolia is the picture of delicate fragility, yet their petals are dense, slow to open, long lasting yet never long enough. Theirs is the scent of spring itself, floral and fresh and sweet.

In my arms lay a bundle of pink, wrapped in a white blanket.

Twenty years ago!

This copper-haired, pink bundle was a miraculous answer to prayers too numerous to count.

I sat on the hospital bed, feeling the awesome presence of the most creative being, who was revealing his nature to me, from the vision in my arms to the one blowing gently at the street.

“Then Esau looked up and saw the women and children. “Who are these with you?” he asked. Jacob answered, “They are the children God has graciously given your servant.” (Genesis 33:5)

The miracle in my arms … she was always mine … she was never mine.

It is hard to find the words to adequately express my love and hopes for you (imagine, me being without words).

I will use the words of the apostle Paul to do that:

“I have never stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you wisdom to see clearly and really understand who Christ is and all that he has done for you. I pray that your heart will be flooded with light so that you can see something of the future he has called you to share. I want you to realize that God has been made rich because we who are Christ’s have been given to him! I pray that you will understand how incredibly great his power is to help those who believe him.
Ephesians 1:16-19

As we celebrate twenty years of life and breath today, I want you to know that wherever you may go, whatever you may do, you are still in the creative and loving arms of your creator … who loves you more than anyone else.

Love,
Mom

 

 

 

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IMG_1400.JPGYou entered the world, and immediately turned mine up-side-down.

That day, you were handed to my open arms, and you were mine.

Now, at twenty-two, and a Psychology major, hearing that you were born into a possessive relationship might make you want to enter into therapy … as a patient.

I can assure you that our relationship got even more possessive, in the years to come. And now, somehow we have reached the point where you like to refer to me as not having time for you … maybe the possessive qualities of our relationship have altered direction (that ought to give both of us reason for therapy!).

According to our friends at Wikipedia, “Possession is nine-tenths of the law is an expression meaning that ownership is easier to maintain if one has possession of something, or difficult to enforce if one does not.”

And, as a newborn baby, you were possessed by myself, and your dad.

Now, if possession didn’t confirm ownership, appearance would cover the other one tenth. You were a visual reflection of your parents. To some a mirror image of myself, to others that of your father. I would say you are an image of the two of us.

There was nothing better, when you were first born, than to look at you. The very sight of you struck awe and wonder in my heart.

That first Sunday at church, when you were surrounded by eager arms, I wanted to hold you close and turn my back on those who would force me to share my possession …

but, I shared.

That first date out, after your birth, which your dad had arranged a dear friend to care for you, I just wanted to say no, and keep your snuggles and baby smell all to myself …

but, I shared.

That first time we didn’t know where you were, in a crowded shopping mall, because one of the girls of youth group passed you to another, I wanted to lock you and I up in our house, and never have to face that fear again …

but, I shared.

The day I took you to preschool, because you begged to go to ‘cool’, I really wanted to stay with you, but your teacher walked me to the door, and said the other children were excited to get to know you …

so, I shared.

And the sharing continued, and continues still.

Now, twenty-two years later, I realize so clearly that I really have never possessed you. From before you took your first breath, before even your heart made it’s first thump-thump, you were a child of the breath-giver.

As I look back at your first twenty-two years, as I look forward, at the appointed ones to come, I am reminded that my main job is not to possess you … but to hand you back into the loving care of the One who teaches us to share.

“I will be a father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”

2 Corinthians 6:8

 

 

 

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Karla Sullivan

Progressive old soul wordsmith

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