Posted in waiting

Wait Lifting #1 – Learning to Wait

Lately I’ve been working through the delicate art of waiting gracefully. Instead of just struggling through it myself, I’ve decided to share this journey here, with you.

My hope is that at the end of this blog series we will both find ourselves with some of the weight, AND the wait lifted.

As I was driving home today, my mind flashed back some 15 years to the first of many times I sat and waited at the food stamp office. I took a number, sat there with my 3- and 7-year-old daughters, and waited to be seen. It was two years after I unexpectedly lost my husband to divorce, and consequently my home, my vehicle, my job, and my savings. And now there I sat – at a place I never imagined I would ever be.

Dora the Explorer was blasting over the TV. I recall she was going on a berry hunt and Swiper was definitely swiping. The low ceiling sagged at one corner, so we moved just in case it gave way. An old woman slept in the corner while her 3-year-old granddaughter sat at her feet eating an endless amount of goldfish crackers.

We sat (mostly figeted) for over an hour before we were called up to the little window where I was told to fill out several more forms and then wait until I was called back up to turn them in. When they called my number an hour and a half later, we were in the restroom. I waited another half hour before I went up to the window and found out my number had been crossed off earlier as a no-show. Tears formed in my eyes. I didn’t want to be there; no one ever wants to be there. The lady told me I could either wait until she could fit me back in, or I could come back the next day. And so we waited.

A month later we got our food stamp and medicaid cards. I always budgeted that money. We had many nights of store brand mac & cheese with dented cans of green beans, and many mornings of store brand coffee out of the clearance bins. If I was lucky, they’d have vanilla coffee on clearance. My fave!

It was during that season of lack that I learned how to “make due” in hard times. I am glad for that season now. We don’t need fancy fixins. The girls still remember that day and so many like it. The girls got so used to it that they knew just what toys to bring while we sat and waited.

During that season I started back to school, so I’d do my homework while we waited for hours. During that season I learned to look around that waiting room and make sure to give the other moms a helping hand with their kids on bathroom breaks. I learned to ask someone to listen for my number and to tell other moms that I’d listen for theirs.

Most of all I learned compassion. I loved listening to other people’s stories and I loved giving them hope by encouraging them not to give up.

If you’re ever tempted to look at my life now after graduate school and think – she’s got it all together, please know that I remember what it’s like to spend hours in a welfare line.

If you’re in a place of waiting now and you can’t stand where you are, please look around. Other people need your story. Other people need your encouragement, even if it’s only a smile. Please remember: A smile is a full sentence. A hug is a full conversation. Other people waiting need your help. And the more we help each other, the more we’ll find our wait – lifting.

Click here for the next blog in this series.

Posted in Uncategorized

Waiting Room

“Take courage my heart, stay steadfast my soul, He’s in the waiting.”
-Bethel Music Take Courage

I hurried into the hospital’s maternity waiting area and sat down. It was past 9 pm. My husband and I had driven an hour through Dallas traffic to get there. Our two daughters, ages 2 and 6, were tucked in at their grandparent’s house. We had two, but I was hoping for three. I sat down with a sigh as he rushed to the desk to get some information. Then he hurried back through double-doors down a long, sterile corridor and out of sight.

Forget a theme-park. This was the happiest place on earth. The waiting room was large, but crowded with giggling Aunts, cooing Grandmothers, cigar-trading Papas and excited friends. They all stood around a window longing for a peek at the newborn babies. I sat back and took in the scene. I smiled that so much happiness was contained in one room.
I sat for over an hour and waited. And waited. And waited. And waited.

Two ladies sat across from me. Mother and daughter, I correctly surmised. They sat down, light blue balloons in hand, and clucked back and forth for a moment, then turned to me. “The first grand baby in our family was just born a few minutes ago. We are waiting to see him.” She drawled out height and weight stats and then asked, “Oh, and which baby are you here for?”

“My husband’s.” I stammered. Tears formed at the back of my eyes.
They looked confused.
“Oh, er, I mean, uhm, my husband is here to check on his girlfriend…who is having trouble with her pregnancy.”
The tears flowed hot down my cheeks as if it were April, 1848 and Niagara Falls, once frozen, began to thaw and burst forth again.

I was handed tissues and words of sympathy as the world blurred. I wandered back through that corridor to find my husband holding her hand and listening to the baby’s heartbeat at her bedside.

Funny how you never forget the faces of the people God sends to sit down beside you and comfort you.

That is waiting.

Four years later I walked into the maternity ward at 38 weeks, checked myself in as scheduled, and was shown to a room. This time there was no husband.
A cesarean section had been ordered for me a week earlier, but I convinced the doctor to wait a week so that I could be the backstage mom for my daughters’ huge ballet performance.
I was not about to miss tutus, pointe shoes, and red-headed, hair-sprayed buns.
It took several tries and several nurses to get an IV placed in me that day. It took seventeen sticks in my back to get the epidural in place once I was in the operating room. Seventeen.
Not that I minded. I was way too excited.
Gavin Michael was set to arrive just as soon as everything was in place. As soon as I was numb from the chest down, I felt pressure, then heard the softest, faintest first cry of my baby boy. He was 9 pounds, 10 oz, 19.5 inches long, and had the biggest umbilical cord any of the doctors or nurses had ever seen.

That is awaiting.

Wait and await are both transitive verbs, that is, they are verbs that need a direct object. Their meanings are similar, but slightly different.
Wait means to hold on, stay, or delay action until a later time.
Await, while similar, usually comes with hope or expectation attached.
Okay – grammar nerds – I realize I’m not using all of the definitions of wait or await here. Stay with me.

In the first story, I was waiting for my husband to go see the girl he got pregnant, assess what was wrong with the baby, and hurry back. I was there for moral support and because I wanted to save my marriage. (Needless to say, the ride home was quiet.) Waiting usually happens at doctor’s offices and train stations. It comes with sighs and moans and multiple glances at your watch. It means something is coming (direct object), but implies frustration. Waiting needs patience and sometimes courage.

In the second story, I was awaiting the arrival of my son. I was happy to go through whatever it took for however long it took to get him into the world. I was eagerly expecting his arrival. Awaiting usually happens when something amazing is coming. Awaiting implies faith and hope have joined you for the ride.

What if, instead of just waiting around for something to happen like John Mayer and his crew were Waiting For the World to Change, we were more like Richard Marx and were Right Here Waiting? If you missed the 80s, you missed that. What if we eagerly awaited a job, a marriage, a reconciliation, a new home, a new baby, a change of heart in someone, instead of getting so frustrated?
Let me add a couple of words to stand in for the “a” in await: alive or active.
What if next time, instead of waiting for a new job, you came alive while you waited, breathed that life into yourself, your job search, your friends and family? What if next time, instead of waiting for your spouse to change for the better, you prayed for them and actively worked on yourself while you awaited their change? What if they have actually been awaiting changes in you?

Practically speaking:

  • Give yourself some “waiting” room. Give yourself permission to slow down and enjoy the necessary delay.
  • Await (anticipate) the amazing things that are coming instead of dreading the sterile hallway in the meantime.
  • Walk in grace with yourself and others. Sometimes, like in the first scenario, life is just hard and completely unfair.
  • Be happy for others when they get what you hoped for.

To answer the questions you all are asking in your mind:

  • The baby in the first scenario turned out just fine. She is a beautiful, healthy, cheerleader and a wonderful half-sister to my two oldest girls. I’ve always had a soft-spot for her in my heart. 
  • I healed and moved forward.
  • My son is amazing as well. He’s a musician, basketball player, comedian, and has the greatest, most loving heart and soul.

Waiting, or awaiting? Your choice.

Posted in Poetry, Word, Writing

Love at First Write

I was asked today during a phone interview how long I’ve been writing. I said that I’ve been writing since I was ordering womb-service.

Seriously though, I’ve always loved writing. Before age 10 I would make up skits complete with scripts and perform them with my sister. (James Moorer would have been so proud). I would write poetry and hallmark-worthy cards for people. I have always loved pretty, witty, descriptive, influential words.

When I was 12 I wrote a letter using perfect formal letter format to ask my parents for a raise in allowance. I stated how I’d worked tirelessly and faithfully doing my chores and asked for $0.50 more an hour. I completed it with a perfect closure.

Yes, of course I got the raise.

But mostly I would sit in the bicep of the climbing tree beside the house and describe the birds and the breeze and the salt-scented air that preceded a coming storm.

Shocking, then, that I stopped writing creatively for 5 years recently. I just did. I wrote extensively through my English literature degree and stopped writing when I was working on my Master’s. Ironically my Master’s is in Technical Writing.

Early in 2018 I read a blog by a new friend, and then I ordered and read their book. And something in me just clicked back on. All the years of dormant words sprang back to life in me.

I’m not sure what your thing is. What is it that makes you tick? What throws your best smile on your face? What is it that needs to spring back to life in you?

Writing? Speaking? Acting? Drawing? Mentoring? Dancing?

Please think about this today and put it into action. If we all began to operate in our talents, the world would be a better place.

What is it for you?

For me, it was love at first write.