So the last two nights I have not slept well at all. I am not uncomfortable like many girls are in the final few days of pregnancy, instead, I am just having weird crazy dreams. I wake up feeling unsettled. It starts about 3 a.m. and I wake up on the hour and half hour from that point on until about seven when I finally decide I can't take it any longer. I go to the kitchen and eat a bowl of Cheerios out of desperation. If I were not starving I would wait because I have yet to brush my teeth. And nothing is worse than morning breath and milk. But I don't want to wake up Ryan, so I eat with an unbrushed, unholy mouth. This is a new habit that I hope to promptly break.
This morning I woke up thinking about my mom and dad.
I miss them.
They moved right after Christmas and it's days like today that I wish they were around so we could have lunch, they could feel Anniston kicking away, and we could celebrate Easter as a family. I know. I have my own grown-up family now, but I always assumed my parents would live close by. Not too close, but closer than a 1,000 miles.
As I thought about them this morning I think God gave me the gift of peace by flooding my sleep deprived mind with little memories of things my parents have done for me over the years. Here are just a few of them:
My sophomore year in high school I was the only cheerleader who didn't really have a boyfriend. My mom knew that during the homecoming parade all the girls would be wearing mums (a.k.a. big, gaudy, awful looking flower and ribbon arrangements that you wear on your shirt) and she did not want me to be the only one left out. I showed up at home and there she was, a huge smile on her face, with the ugliest, most expensive mum in the entire world. This thing was enormous. It literally hung past my knees with flowers, ribbons, pom-poms, and other trinkets. It weighed more than my 100 pound body did. And I was mortified that I was going to have to wear it and say, "Oh, no, not from my boyfriend... it's from my mom!" Punk teenager. I am sure I was grateful to her face, but I know my pride was bruised, I was about to leave the house wearing half of Hobby Lobby on my chest. Only now can I appreciate what a beautiful act of love this was.
When Ryan and I were in college and starting to take our band "seriously," we planned a concert at our church and for some reason convinced ourselves that it was a make or break show. I have a feeling we were dramatic about it. I remember there were several bands playing before us and it was going to be our huge debut. Our first full length concert. I made flyers and put them everywhere. Ryan studiously plugged away with the guys to work up songs and to secure "the venue" and make sure the "right" people were there to hear us play. Ah... how little we knew but passion! My dad called me and told me how proud he was of me and said he was going to put an ad in the school's paper to advertise the show. This was a $300 ad. Maybe $500. I am not sure, I just know it was way more than he could possibly afford. But he took our lame, dramatic, passionate dreams seriously when he did not have to and what do you know, there was a huge ad in the Baylor University paper advertising our first big show. I'm embarrassed he spent so much money on that now! But he was convinced this was the gateway, the golden ticket... the ad that would push us over the top.
And while I'm on him I will never forget the night before I left for college. I was scared. Excited, but really, really scared. I went downstairs in the dark to sit in the rocking chair and think. Ok... and to cry. Somehow he heard me. And a little after midnight he came into the dark room, pulled me up by the hand, sat down in the rocking chair, and pulled me, his grown 17 year old daughter, back down into his lap and rocked me. I'm not sure if we ever said anything. But I will never forget that moment.
My mom has supported every single illegitimate idea I have had for my future. In the not-so-distant past, um say four years ago, I actually decided that in order to be able to stay in a band and pay the bills I needed a side business. So again, with gusto and passion, Ryan and I created a business plan and a beautiful website for... my eulogy writing business. After delivering the eulogy for two of Ryan's grandparents and wishing I would have written one for my own papaw, my eyes were opened to my true potential and God given gifts. I was to be a eulogy writer. (I have also been truly convinced that I was destined to be a whistler, voice animator, actress, newspaper editor, cosmetic distributor, card designer, closet organizer or friend for hire... you get the point). So I tell my mom that my $100,000 education was not in vein, that indeed her 24 year-old-daughter had discovered her calling. I asked her to edit the website and give me her feedback on my new calling. And this is a small part of what she wrote back,
"You need to send pamphlets to funeral homes and ministers. You might also want to think about other 'events'. 50Th anniversaries, retirements, Best Man/Brides Maid toasts, etc. etc. It just seems that the more you offer, the more opportunities you'll have for customers."
This e-mail makes me laugh every time I read it. What love. What support. Anyone in their right mind would say, "That is the most stupid idea I have ever heard. You are a grown woman! Get a real job!" But not my mom. Nope, she's thinking through how to get my material into the hands of funeral homes.
The stories of unending, ridiculous love go on and on. I could write an entire book and fill the pages with a million examples of how my parents have foolishly, passionately, vigorously loved me.
And yet, when I think of them, I also know their flaws. Their shortcomings. The times they have hurt me. The times they have not done it right. After all they are just human, just trying to do better than their parents did, just trying to figure it out as they go.
They are but a glimpse, a mere imperfect foretaste of what it means to be deeply loved by the true Father.
"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" 1 John 3:1 says. This verse carried me through Lent.
On Good Friday we sang these words:
How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond measure
That he should give his only son,
To make a wretch his treasure
Yesterday we celebrated this great love. I stood in awe of a God who calls each one of us by name. A God who says he is not just a friend, a guide, a deity, or a distant relative, but he is a parent. The good type of parent. The one we all dream about having. The ones that some of us have been able to experience on earth. But He is so much more than the very best mom or dad; they are just a speck of what His love looks like. He is better than anything we have known here. And He honors us, lavishes us with his foolish, passionate, vigorous love by calling us His sons and daughters.
So yes, I find myself missing my parents today. Sometimes when I am traveling and bouncing around from hotel to hotel I feel homesick. For what, or where, or who, I am not even exactly sure. But I think these moments of feeling achy and empty for something are God's ways of reminding me that beyond my parents, a childhood house, an amazing husband, or any best friend, there is a place deep inside of me that can only be assuaged by the deep love He alone can lavish upon me. By being called his daughter.
How great it is that I should be called his daughter. That you should be called his son.
I need no other.
How deep the Father's love for me...