The Uncovered Heart of Lady Tatoo

“Bronze Susan”
Photo by Sherri Woodbridge

Six women and two men. Two of the women are in wheelchairs. One is pushing a shopping cart while struggling to push her wheelchair at the same time.

The other one of the two women in wheelchairs finishes up with her shopping and makes for the exit, her older daughter (presumably) beside her. I notice tattoos cover the younger woman’s legs, her left shoulder, her right arm, the back of her neck.

As the line of shopping traffic increases just inside the store, everyone intent on getting out the exit first, all come to a standstill caused by the lone woman in the wheelchair, trying to get out through the exit door.

No one acts. No one reacts. Except one woman.

Everyone is annoyed with having to wait to get through the exit door and some have switched to using the entry doorway instead of the exit (which only serves to annoy those who are entering through the proper door clearly marked ‘ENTER’).

And as we wait, it happens.

The realization.

I could have helped that woman. I could have held the door for her, helped to push her grocery cart. Something. But I do nothing except watch. I watch the one woman who, in front of two empty-handed men, motions to her mother (presumably) to stay and wait as pushes their cart aside while holding the exit door open with one hand and pulls the other woman in a wheelchair’s grocery cart out the door behind her.

And as she pushes the cart to the handicapped vehicle’s space in the first row out the door, she carries on a brief conversation with the woman in the wheelchair before going back to get her mother and their cart which she had left inside the exit door.

And I watch her go, this younger woman with tattoos that cover her legs, her left shoulder, her right arm, and the back of her neck. And I think to myself, she may have covered herself with black ink, but she was the only one who left her heart uncovered that day.

April / May Favorite Photos

Five Gems of Truth for Mothers

Motherhood is a choice you make everyday, to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you’re not sure what the right thing is…and to forgive yourself, over and over again, for doing everything wrong.

~Donna Ball, At Home on Ladybug Farm

 

For years, 34 to be exact, I have believed that the hospital I birthed my first son in, did me a great disservice by letting me walk out the double doors of their institution after my son was a mere one day old. Oh, they took care of me alright. They gave me ice chips during the birthing process. They had all the equipment needed, in working order, to deliver a healthy baby. The pitocin was running properly through the tube and into my system. It was a hard birth but it was a healthy birth.

I slept as well as I could after my baby was born and then the next morning it was time to go home. Everything seemed normal, but little did I know, little did I realize, little did anyone tell me that my whole life had changed the day before and I didn’t even know it.

I had a baby.

Not just any baby. But a real, living, breathing baby that got hungry and pooped and cried did all those things that real babies do. Not like the babies you get for Christmas when you’re a four year old little girl. Babies that don’t make noise and don’t poop and never get hungry. If they do, you just pretend to feed them. You pretend to soothe them. You pretend to change their diaper. And all the pretending works. But not with real babies. You can’t pretend with real babies. Real babies let you know if you mess up. Real babies let you know that their diapers are messy and haven’t been changed. Real babies will want some more to eat so they can fill up that diaper again and again.

As a new parent, you kind of expect all that to happen. That is the reason for baby showers. To prepare the unprepared. To prepare the ones who did and who didn’t plan for baby. Materially, anyhow. For the truth is – you can never fully prepare for being a mom. Or dad.

You can buy every little thing they advertise for the new little munchkins. From pacifiers, to cloth diapers to disposables, to itsy-bitsy onesies, to super soft blankies, to stuffed bears, to baby lotion… you get the picture. You can buy it all, or at least what you think you’ll actually need, and it still won’t prepare you for what is coming. You can read every book on pregnancy and every book on raising children and you will still be unprepared to some degree. But there is one simple fact on your side: you have never been a parent before.

This one simple fact may seem discouraging when it comes down to it. Except, again, for one simple fact: your child has never been a baby before. Nor anything that comes after. Be it a toddler, a preschooler, a kindergartner, a youth, a teenager, or………….

They will have multitudes of ‘firsts’ that will cause you to squeal with delight. Firsts that you have taken for granted and now see again, through their eyes, in awe. Firsts that you will have forgotten what it felt like to experience. Firsts that will leave you dumbfounded, amazed, frustrated, frightened, embarrassed, uptight, proud, and every gamut of emotion in between and beyond.

However, there are a few gems of truth in this life they call parenthood, or mothering, or fathering. Gems no new parent should ever be let out of the delivery section of the hospital (or the office for signing adoption papers) without hearing. Gems that need to be heard by new moms and new dads everywhere, in hopes of saving them moments, that can seem like hours, and hours that can seem like days, and days that can seem like months of discouragement, depression, hopelessness, frustration, anger, despair, and more.

Numero Uno… Remember, remember, remember – you have never done this before. You won’t have all the answers, so go easy on yourself. You get better at changing diapers the more you change them, just as you get better at setting boundaries the more you do it, just as you get better at extending grace the more you extend it – to yourself and to others. Practice, practice, practice. Extend, extend, extend.

Butt paste is hard to put on the first time. You’re afraid you will break baby’s butt by pushing so hard to get it to spread. Once you realize after applying it a few times that baby doesn’t even bruise from said application, it’s easier to do. You’ve practiced, practiced, practiced. You are an expert with butt paste. Just like you will become an expert in other things you once never experienced (in the land of parenthood).

Numero Dos… Your baby doesn’t know you are new at this. So you put the diaper on backwards. And who cares if you gave up on cloth and switched to disposable diapers? If your baby is well fed, is changed at regular intervals and when poopy, and is sheltered, your baby is being loved. And isn’t that the greatest thing, after all? Not what brand of shorts they are sporting, whether their polo shirt has a horse on the chest, if their shoes match their outfit. None of that matters and your baby won’t care.

Numero Tres… Lighten up. Let go of expectations you have put on yourself and (perhaps not realizing) your child(ren).

We spend billions of dolllars trying to make our children into little conformities of our own desires. We try to keep up with the Jones’s and in doing so our children miss out on the one thing they are supposed to be experiencing: Childhood. We are afraid of them getting their name brand clothes dirty in the sandbox. We fret over style when we should be teaching values. Let them be children. Let them get dirty.

Numero Tres... Mama said there’d be days like this. A popular song verbiage that has tremendous value and truth. You may not have heard those words come from mama’s lips, but every parent needs to know, “There WILL BE days like ‘this’. There will be days of frustration, days of feeling inadequate, guilty and ashamed. Days filled with weariness, wishing you could throw in the towel and drive back to that birthing center and ask for a full refund.

But wait.

It could always be worse. It really could. Really. That is not just a cliche.

Close your eyes and count to ten. Slowly. Your kids didn’t set out to make you tired and miserable. They are children. More than likely they are doing what they are supposed to do. Being children. However, they may be in need of some timely guidance. So give it to them, in love.

Without uncontrolled anger.
Without instilling shame.
With discipline that fits the misconduct and is age-appropriate.
With forgiveness.
And in love.

Always in love.

Numero Quattro… Things are not always what they seem, but if they are, don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help.

Some times, on those harder days, if you wait long enough before reacting, you’ll see the situation for what it really is – funny. When you finally get past the embarrassment of the repairman coming into your living room to your boys’ ingenious raceway made of connected Kotex pads (true story – not mine, however) and step back and look at how creative your boys are – eventually you will laugh. I promise. But, if for some reason you can’t just then and things only continue to pile higher and deeper and you’re not sure you can do another day, you need to ask for help. At the point of a sigh replacing your joy, you need a break.

Asking for help is not admitting you’re a bad parent. It is admitting you are human and you are being honest with yourself. The person too proud to ask for help will only make it harder for her/himself and their family. If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

Ask for help. Offer help, if you’re stocked up emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically.

Numero Cinco… One of the greatest pieces of advice I ever received was from my first son’s pediatrician. This is what he said…

Dance with your children.”

A month ago I spent a week with my daughter. During the course of that week she gave me a precious gift. A sign that read: “This kitchen is for dancing.”

And that’s what kitchens are for. Dancing with those you love and cherish. With those you have forgiven and those who have forgiven you. With those you have experienced life with. They are for making memories. They are for dancing…

with your children.

A Few Gems for Mother’s Day

Tell them and they’ll forget.
Teach them and they may remember.
Involve them and they will learn.
~Benjamin Franklin

Falling for Leaves

Just as there is no warning for childbirth, there is no preparation for the sight of a first child… There should be a song for women to sing at this moment, or a prayer to recite. But perhaps there is none because there are no words strong enough to name the moment.
~Anita Diamant, The Red Tent

They may forget what you said,
but they will never forget how you made them feel.

~Carol Buchner

I’m beginning to perceive motherhood as a long, slow letting go, of which birth is just the first step.
~ Sandra Steingraber, Having Faith

Hugs can do great amounts of good,
especially for children.

~Princess Diana, Princess of Wales

A person’s a person, no matter how small.
~Dr. Seuss

Every child you encounter is a divine appointment.
~Wess Stafford

Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them.
~Lady Bird Johnson

Children are great imitators.
So give them something great to imitate.

~Unknown

There should be no yelling in the home unless there is a fire.
~McKay

If you have a child, your duty of the moment
may be to change a dirty diaper.

So you do it.

But you don’t just change that diaper,
you change it to the best of your ability,
with great love for both God and that child.

And it must be done,
because the duty of the moment
is the duty of God.

~Catherine de Hueck Doherty

Choose your words wisely,
for it easier to build up a child than to repair an adult.

~Unknown

Children are not people to be molded
but little people to be unfolded.

~Anonymous

Let children be little for they only stay that way for a very short while.
~Unknown

Children are not a distraction from more important work.
They are the most important work.

~John Trainer, MD

His little hands stole my heart…
and his little feet ran away with it.

~Anonymous

Every child is gifted.
They just unwrap their packages at different times.

~Unknown

‘Sometimes’, said Pooh,
’the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.’
~A.A. Milne

I adore his smile
I cherish his hugs

Being a mother is not about what you gave up to have a child,
but what you’ve gained from having one.

~Sunny Gupta

A person soon learns how little he knows
when a child begins to ask quesitons.

~Richard L. Evans

Never let a problem to be solved
become more important than a person to be loved.

~Thomas S Monson
There is no way to be a perfect mother,
but there are a million ways to be a good one.

~Unknown

How you speak to your child will become their inner voice. ~Unknown

I never pulled over the car just to stare at horses.
I never was willing to give someone else my last bite.
I never planned on handling someone else’s boogers
and I never listened to a song 50 times in a row.
I never found rocks in my dryer or had the power to heal
a wound with my kiss… until you.



A tired boy

A Lot Can Happen In Just Three Days

The Son is Always There
Photo by Sherri Woodbridge

It was three days later. Three days after they had laid him behind the stone that everyone said would take at least six men to move, most likely more.

Three days after he had told his closest friends he would be back. Three days after his would-be, so-called followers asked for his blood to pay for crimes he didn’t commit.

Three days. A lot can happen in three days but in this town not much was happening. People were quiet. Afraid. Despairing. Hopeless. In hiding. Unaware.

Quiet for the uproar had subsided. It was believed the cause was now gone. But, a lot can happen in three days no matter how quiet it may seem.

People were afraid. Afraid of what might or never might be. Afraid of being connected. Afraid of being disconnected. But – a lot of connection can be lost but a lot of connection can also be restored in just three days.

People were in despair and void of hope. Despairing over what they had once hoped for because what they had once hoped for now seemed forever gone. But – despair can give birth to hope and hope can give birth to life in just three days.

People feared for their lives, afraid of being put to death for something they once thought would save them. They were unaware of what was happening in those three days.

Three days and the One who gave hope that led to despair had other plans that third day. Plans other than watching three devoted women prepare a body for burial. Three women who were making their way to a tomb that no longer held the One which they sought. Three women who walked quietly. Three women who seemed to have misplaced their hope. Three women who stopped, cheeks wet from fresh fallen tears, to discuss how they were going to move the stone just yards before them. The stone that covered the entrance to the tomb where the body of their beloved laid. The body they had come to prepare for burial.

Fresh tears fell again for though they are ready to prepare the body of the one they love, the three women are unprepared in strength and all their pondering won’t help. They know they cannot move the stone. Still, they step those extra feet, one foot in front of the other, and they approach the tomb.

The stone is not there.

The tomb is open.

As Dr. David Jeremiah said in so many words, have you ever wondered if the stone had not necessarily been opened for the Beloved to walk out of but for us to step into? For us to see that He was not there? For us to see such a miracle for ourselves? The miracle of the empty tomb?

The women listened to the angel who stood waiting at the entrance of the tomb. Three women who had spent their morning walking a quiet, sorrowful journey to do a grievous task. Waiting to give them cause to renew their faith and a reason to dispel their fears.

For three days they had wept. For three days they were lost, alone, and despairing. But then came the third day and instead of finding a body waiting for burial, they found hope anew in an empty tomb. Hope that beckoned them to come, see for themselves that what their Beloved tried to make them understand days, weeks, months earlier – it had now come to pass.

Death could not defeat Him. Hell could not hold Him back. Fear was conquered through faith and despair was laid to waste through death. It was finished.

A lot can happen in just three days.

Not Perfect but Beautiful

having some inspiration today

while realizing

why I don’t act on my inspirations

my inspirations,
once again –
too many times again –
are left unattended to

and I feel myself going down

I sit down to write
all I feel is the numb

a feeling that I am empty
in need of direction
and no where to turn
no sign to tell me left or right

is it because I’m supposed to keep straight on?
and, is straight on taking me in the right direction?
am I getting deeper into despair or closer to healing?

I cry out
and it seems as if there is silence in the outcry
all around
deep within
there is nothing but silence within the silence

and trying to maintain that Jesus word for my New Year’s life
I fear I’ll forget
can I inch closer to the joy if the forgetting masters my mind?

I turn to His Word

He will protect
that includes the rampant thoughts
which seek to destroy my sanity

that which seeks to take what I know to be true
and turn it into doubt

I want to be good
knowing perfection is unattainable

righteous in the sight of God
good
beautiful from the inside out

He loves the righteous
Mary was righteous
Abraham was righteous

and good

not perfect

beautiful in His sight
protected
safe

“It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.”

the sign spoke of a home
a place where comfort and warmth exist
love and forgiveness is poured freely upon the broken
a place where forgiveness was established

practiced in a place where joy eminates even in the dark

if my heart is Christ’s home –
the very cause for the beating of my heart
the very reason for my passion to live
and reside and breathe

then…

though I am not perfect
i am beautiful

for

He has made me beautiful

and brought the comfort, the warmth
the love and the forgiveness and the peace
when He moved in, unpacked,
and Joy awakened my soul

not perfect –

so very not perfect

but focused on His presence
drinking in His forgiveness
dwelling in His comfort

resting in His peace

focused on Him,

who keeps me walking straight

not turning to the left
not turning to the right
not being perfect

but keeping straight on

not perfect

but beautiful