Saturday night was hot, humid and disgusting. The air so heavy, thick and dirty. Finally, we welcomed the thunder storms to remedy the negative environment. As the storms calmed to a steady rain, my babies fell asleep, so innocent and peaceful. Looking at them swells my heart and warms my soul. I know deep down I am making the right decision to protect their lives and do what I can to stop this cycle of addiction that has plagued his family for generations. For the fourth time this week, I fell asleep next to my 4-year-old daughter and slept soundly through the night.
Sunday morning woke me up early with a cool breeze and bright sun. Saturday’s heaviness was washed away. I gently snuck my arm out from under my little redhead’s body and tiptoed down the hall, scooping the dogs up and out the deck door. Just in my nightshirt, I was cold. I walked my fur babies around the backyard and into the bright 6am sunlight. The bumblebees were at work early in my mother’s rose of Sharon bushes. As I stood and watched them, I breathed the clean air in deeply and welcomed the warm sun on my face. These little fuzzy beings worked so hard and with such purpose; I wonder what is going on in their little heads and realize that for the first time in what seems like an eternity, the life of a bumblebee is the only thing that is going on in mine. My life was so full of “what ifs” that I never got to enjoy the here and now, constantly needing to cover-up and parent a 40-year-old while caring for 2 young kids was an exhausting 24/7 job to say the least. Today was clearly a turning point in my journey, a new day on this adventure.
Over the course of the past 7 years the universe, or cosmos, or my higher power, or whoever is up there was sending me signs and messages. Early on, they were quiet and subtle and I effortlessly brushed them to the side, but as the years flew by they became louder and louder and more obvious. Even when they were screaming at me, I heard, but ignored them. Every time things were going well and I would say to myself “this is great, things are going to work out after all”, but shortly after, something would happen to show me that it wasn’t, in fact, going to work out. Tuesday’s event was preceded by a wonderful 2 days away in the mountains, where we relaxed, kayaked, hiked and made out passionately while the sun settled in the background. 24 hours home and whoever is looking over me threw Tuesday in my face. I listened to Tuesday’s message, I acted on it and I haven’t felt this good in so very long.
I continued to appreciate these bumblebees working so very hard on this absolutely perfect Sunday morning. Even on a Sunday, working their tails off. Sunday, the day of rest, day of worship. Worship, reflect, pray, give thanks for blessings. When was the last time I took the time to do these things? Thinking about my healthy, happy babies still innocently sleeping upstairs, this beautiful morning and the fact that I am still alive and breathing, I realized that I have not taken any time to appreciate or thank my higher power for my blessings. I guess that I will have to change this today.
Many months, and relapses ago, a counselor I was seeing recommended a church down the road and promised they would welcome me; unlike the closer Roman Catholic church whose secretary read me the riot act for not being married- but that’s another story for another day. I reluctantly left my bumblebees and returned to the still quiet sleepy house. I fired up my laptop and plugged the church name into the search engine. It quickly popped up and my eyes were immediately drawn to the worship times on the bottom of the screen. “945am, 1111am and 600pm” I read out loud. “1111am…” I repeated. 1111 is a time I see on the clock every day at least once, at times its while I’m thinking about my dad or I’m praying my patient is going to be okay. 1111 is a time that I relate to a higher power and I related the fact that one of the worship times is 1111 to be a sign (or a push) to go to this place.
Eventually, my bed-headed little loves emerged from their slumber. I put them on the couch in front of the TV with breakfast and told them about the day’s activities. My plans were met with resistance, but I told them they didn’t have a choice because I was going and they cannot be left at home alone. “Fine, but I want a reward for going!” replied my son as he went into all the terrible things about church- the uncomfortable seating, the up and down, the hot building. I pushed back, said that life is all about trying new things to better your life and if you do not like it after trying then you simply do not have to do it again. “What if this church is like lobster???” I said. A few weeks ago, my son was on vacation with extended family when he, a bit reluctantly, tried lobster for the first time. He loved it and cannot wait to try it again. “Ok fine!” he said, folding his arms and marching to my brother’s old room, now his, to get ready. “Yeah, fine!” said my daughter who goes along with whatever her fabulous big brother says, “can you help me get dressed now?”. The three amigos (the nickname for the 3 of us I came up with during a particularly difficult time) then suited up and headed to hang with Jesus for the morning.
“First time worshipers parking?” my son read as we pulled into a spot across the parking lot. “THERE’S A PLAYGROUD!!!!” my daughter squealed. People were swarming everywhere, groups chatting throughout the parking lot, in front of the entrance and in the playground. I gathered our things and we emerged cautiously from the car. I took my kids by the hands and made my best attempt to confidently walk into the building. The smell of fresh brewed coffee and laughter filled the air. “Good morning!” a little bald old man exclaimed, “What a fabulous looking family we have here! It’s name tag Sunday and they are right there for you to fill out” he pointed to the right of the entrance to a fold out table covered in Sharpies and name tags. “Great, name tag Sunday, picked the perfect day for our first visit. So much for my plan to stay incognito.” I said sarcastically out of the corner of my mouth. The name tag table was manned by two cute-as-a-button elderly ladies. “Welcome! What beautiful children you have!” one said as she handed them bags full of coloring pages, crayons and fruit snacks. I quickly filled out our name tags and thanked the ladies for the goodie bags. I looked to the left, there was a little café area with baked good and coffee, and to the right were a set of large double doors manned by two older men.
The men greeted and welcomed us warmly. “Sit where ever you like! He’s this week’s newsletter” one said handing me 3 pages stapled together. No pews, instead there were many rows of padded office chairs. I picked the first 3 chairs in the last possible row, closest to the exit just in case we need to make a quick break for it. I was looking down at the newsletter when I hear “Well hi there! Welcome to our community!”, looked up to see a tall blonde with a beaming smile in front of me. I shook her hand and she introduced herself as the Pastor’s wife. She handed me a coffee mug full of business cards and info on the church as well as a pen. “You’ve been mugged! All of our first timers get a mug and this info. My husband’s card is in there, please call or email him with any questions”. I guess I didn’t need to be parked in the first timers spot to be pegged as a one. She said that she hopes we enjoy the service and to have a “spectacular day” before taking the stage as part of the band. “I really like that lady!” my daughter whispered into my upper arm.
Our next visitor was a very tall 60ish year old man, “Hey partner! I see you have 2 beautiful ladies on your arm!” He nudged my son and winked at him. My son gave a little smirk and fake giggle. The man moved to the side and behind him was a plump middle-aged woman in a very bright teal dress. “Hello! I’m this fresh man’s wife and I run the education department” she said through a smile so huge I thought it would devour her entire face. “Only a few more weeks until Sunday school starts back up! Here’s my card, please call me with any questions or to get these precious loves signed up” she patted my daughter on the head as she walked by. “Enjoy the service!” she exclaimed over her shoulder. “People sure are friendly around these parts” my son said making us laugh as the lighting changed and the band began to play.
There was a lot of singing of Christian rock songs, the words flashed across the large screens behind the band on stage and the spectators sang along enthusiastically. Song number 4 ended and the Pastor took the stage. He talked about his week away at a Christian music festival for quite some time and then got down to his sermon. “Everyone in this room has been hurt by someone at some point in their life….” My ears perked up. He continued to talk about different reactions to hurt and ultimately discussed forgiveness. He talked about how holding on to something will weigh you down and instead of it hurting the person who hurt you, it will damage you both mentally and physically. It was the first time ever that I connected with a sermon and felt like I was the only one in the room. I hold onto each and every relapse for dear life and throw it back at Him constantly.
The service ended and we filtered out with the rest of the congregation hoping I would blend in and make a swift escape. That was not the case at all. “Good morning! Well, afternoon now!” a voice boomed from behind us. A man in a salmon colored short sleeved dress shirt hopped in front of us. “My wife told me you are new to us and I wanted to introduce myself and thank you for joining us” he said with a smile. “I hope you enjoy this beautiful day, make sure the kiddos visit the playground before you head out!” he exclaimed during an inappropriately long handshake. “Thank you, Pastor, we enjoyed ourselves” I said with a smile and pushed forward to the open doors.
The cool fresh summer air felt great on my anxious skin. The playground to my left was empty so we made our way over. The kids played and laughed together as I soaked up the sun on the park bench nearby and reflected on the morning. My little ones were soon hungry and we headed to our car. Once doors were shut, they took turns telling me their favorite parts of “our new church”. “Everyone is just so nice to me” my daughter said, “and there is a killer playground!” she added. “I like the comfortable seats and fruit snacks” my son said. Both of them agreed that the band was a great addition to the service. Once we were back to our new home, I emailed the Pastor to thank him and the congregation for welcoming us in our time of need.
I sat on the deck that night, breathing in the chilly air that reminded me of Autumn. I thought about how I felt “urged” to go to church and how I felt the sermon was tailored for me. I thought about all the times I felt like someone or something was sending me signs and messages over the past 7 years. I thought about my dad, up in the stars, and how he always said, “Everything happens for a reason”. I felt good. I felt calm and full of life. A feeling that is new and unfamiliar, but so satisfying.
I don’t know who you are, but I am so sorry…. I am sorry I did not listen to you, I am sorry you had to try so many times to show me the light, I am sorry that I have not made attempts to connect with you until now and I am so very sorry that I have not introduced my children to their spirituality. I promise, whoever or whatever you are, I will do better. For myself, for my kids and for you out there in the cosmos, I will listen, worship and care.