Monday, September 24, 2012

Fragile - The Parable of the Sea Glass

Who can see the word "fragile" and not say "FRAH-GEE-LAY" in their mind? I can't. That darn "A Christmas Story" has changed that word for me forever and now I'm changing it for you...Ha, Ha! A little comic relief when I am feeling particularly "frah-gee-lay".

I hate feeling fragile. It makes me feel weak. I hate feeling weak. Writing this right now makes me feel a little uncomfortable but there is a bigger part of me that feels strong, like I'm letting the weakness seep out of me. I need it to seep out, I need it to be gone so I will continue to type...

When I think of something fragile the first thing that comes to my mind is glass. The sound of glass breaking makes me cringe. The mess is the worst! Large pieces and tiny pieces of glass everywhere. No matter how much I sweep or vacuum I am always so worried I didn't get it all. The tiny shard I miss will no doubt get stepped me or worse one of my kids. The giant pieces I am able to grab are full of sharp angles that have to be carefully handled and disposed of as to not cut anyone who accidentally grabs the garbage bag unaware of the dangerous, damaged glass that is inside.

That sound of shattering glass is recognized universally. It's beyond language, like a baby crying, you hear it, and you know exactly what it is. So when your ears hear glass as it hits the hard tile floor, it silences any conversation you may be having. It trumps any other noise around you. It's the sound of something that just moments before was whole, full of purpose, had value and beauty, turn into a glorious mess. In a blink of an eye you have a million pieces of garbage. All the super glue in the world cannot restore it to the perfect form it was before. There will always be cracks, chips and seams. Even if it was worth fixing it will still never be the same. Even if pieced back together by a perfectionist, the cracks are visible which only shows how vulnerable that piece of glass really is. So why bother...the beauty is gone, it's purpose is gone, it is no longer of any value.

Or is it...

After only being here a couple of weeks we were introduced to the fun activity that is called "hunting for sea glass". We were having dinner at some new found friend's house, they live in Hull which is right on the ocean. As we were waiting for dinner, the kids went out to explore and found some very cool pieces of glass. One was a from an old medicine bottle, the others came from who knows what but they were so interesting to look at. Since then we have made sea glass hunting our favorite family activity. We separate, each going in a slightly different course and search in the rocks and sand. Every so often we come together to show each other what treasures we have found. We have found some amazing pieces both big and small, all different shapes and colors. Then we take our pieces home to wash them and take a closer look at each one. We wonder about where each piece came from, how old it is and how far it has traveled. We look for letters and words and google them. We have the glass displayed in different glass containers in our apartment. We all have our favorite pieces. These are some of mine...

The ones that strike me as the most beautiful are the smaller, smooth, thicker pieces. The ones that are cloudy from the years of being scooted across the ocean floor. The ones whose edges that were once jagged and hard, are now smooth and soft. They have been gently tossed across thousands if not, millions of rocks. The moss and dirt have discolored them. The waves themselves have slowly, over time, worn those sharp edges down as if to sculpt them into a stunning piece of art.

So how does this happen? How does something so beautiful, smooth and strong that stands on its own, come from something that was so fragile, so weak?

I have one of the glass containers we have filled with our sea glass sitting on the counter in front of my kitchen sink. I look at it a lot while I'm doing the dishes. My mind wanders as I look at each piece remembering who found which piece and on which trip we got it on. I think about how grateful I am for these special souvenirs my family will always cherish.

The other day I had a very interesting idea come into my mind while admiring the glass with dish pan hands and C at the table making playdough food for Cookie Monster...My shoulders had been particularly heavy with the burdens our life detour has brought us. I had been trying to push away my feeling of fragility but after keeping them at bay for sometime, I began to crack. I tried as hard as I could to keep from shattering completely, realizing that four precious people were counting on me to be strong. I didn't want them or anyone else near me to hear the glass hit the floor and silence their conversations. Thankfully I was able to break in a rather quiet, organized fashion.

There were not millions of tiny pieces everywhere. You'd think it would be a relatively easy and quick clean up because unfortunately, I have been broken before, which means I have been glued back together a few times now. And although I have been through this before it was still hard and painful as every other time. In fact, this time was harder than the others, mainly because my regular clean up crew was thousands of miles away. I had only Aric to try to put me back together and that poor guy has enough on his plate! The last thing he has time for is an emotional wife who needs to be put back together like a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle.

(If I haven't lost you yet, here is where the sea glass finally comes in...)

After a few weeks of trying to be whole again and feeling disappointed with all the attempts made to super glue the pieces back together, I saw all the beautiful pieces of glass on display on my counter. That is when the idea came to me...being whole doesn't mean that I have to be put all back together again like Humpty Dumpty. I have been chasing that dream in circles my whole life! I have been broken since I was a kid. (broken homes tend to produce broken children, because a broken home is really just a regular old house with a bunch of broken people that live in least that's what Dr. Phil says...but that's a WHOLE other blog post) With every trial that has broken me I have just tried to super glue myself back together so that I could appear to be whole. Hoping that people won't notice my cracks and chips. So that I would be accepted by them and so I could accept myself. That was the only way I felt whole, valued and of purpose.

But now....(this is when it gets good)

BUT NOW, I realize I don't need super glue anymore. I am broken and it's okay. (and aren't we all in some way or another for that matter??? Some just have more pieces than others) Instead of trying to fit all those broken pieces together like a jigsaw puzzle, I am going to let them be as they are. This does not mean I will just wallow in in my brokenness or that I will never feel broken again, it just means that I will let the ocean of life, through Christ's atonement, work its miracle in me so that the rough and jagged pieces get smooth and turn into something of worth. Which is another reason I am writing this, so I can remind myself the next time I feel the frustration of trying to keep it all together when the only thing I can really do is just let it go and trust that God does have a plan, and let Christ be my source of comfort when I don't understand it.

I am not, nor can I ever be, a large pristine, perfectly clear glass container that holds the sea glass.

I Am the Sea Glass.

Some of me is pretty well intact, but I am also made up of many different pieces of glass that has been broken, shaped, smoothed and discolored by the trials of my life. I am whole by being what fills the beautiful container that sits on a shelf displayed for the appreciative eye to see. That is what God wants me to be. I realize that some people will walk by that container and wonder, "Is that really just a bunch of old broken glass sitting in a jar?" "Why in the world would anyone display it like that?" And that is fine. Not everyone will see the beauty in it. But for those who will not see broken glass but see art and admire each piece and ponder the story behind each individual one, they will see me...and maybe even catch a glimpse of themselves too.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Science Museum

I know these posts have been super lame but since we live so far away from family I feel like I have to post all of these so they can see what we are doing...

So my Aunt Carolyn is pretty much AMAZING. She goes out of her way to spend time with us. She has a membership to the Science Museum so we spent the day there with her a few weeks ago.

Maya and Eden loved the Egypt exhibit. They got to see real mummies! Maya had studied Egypt last year in her social studies class so it was all fresh in her mind, she was so excited to see the ancient artifacts and tell us everything she remembered.

 There were "lift and see" and "lift and smell" boxes. They tried to get me to smell the deer poop thanks.

 The Butterfly Garden was a huge hit...

GK loved butterflies. She even gave the girls a book a few years ago about a grandma who passes away but tells her granddaughter before she dies that whenever she sees a butterfly to think of her because she would always be near them, fluttering by. The butterfly in the book looks just like this one...


Camden was being such a what else is new... He refused to look at the camera for a picture and he kept trying to touch the butterflies, even after getting scolded by the butterfly police.

There was so much to see and do! We were there for over three hours!!

The electricity show was so cool! This picture is lame and doesn't even do it justice...

Camden's favorite was the dinosaurs...he was getting dangerously close to them. I had several mini heart attacks trying to keep him away from them.

This is Maya and Camo touching dinosaur poop...

There was something for everyone at this museum too. Everyone had a great time...

We took the train there and back. It took us almost an hour to find parking near a T station which was so annoying but in the end totally worth it...Do you see the traffic behind the girls!

We had the best time. Aunt Carolyn is such a trooper, hanging out with us can be a circus but she just goes with the flow. She took C around so he could push buttons while the girls and I took our time with the exhibits that were interesting to us. It made the experience so much more enjoyable. 

Now I can cross that off of my list of things we have to do while we are here.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Children's Museum

Boston has an amazing Children's Museum. On Friday nights they let you in for $1.00! So we boarded the Red Line and off we went. The kids LOVE riding the T...too bad C fell asleep on the way to the station...

We got off at South Station and walked over to the museum. We stopped and checked out the boat at the Boston Tea Party Museum.

Behind the fam is the Children's Museum. Do you see Arthur on the top? My kids love Arthur and the author lives in Hingham, where we go to church, so there is a huge area devoted to Arthur.

What ISN'T cool about a giant milk bottle??

It was so great how there was something for all of the kids...

Eden wore a green shirt so we lost her :)

The girls loved the Doll House Display, it made us think of Grandma Marion...

Aric couldn't help himself, he had to share with the girls what he was learning at school...

In honor of the Olympics, they had a hat making station...I'm sure we would have fit in with the British with our fancy hats.

The climbing wall was a big hit with the girls, Camden preferred playing basketball...

This is the wildest climbing thing I've ever seen! It started at the first floor and went up to the third floor. Camden was so excited to try it out, but once he got in it, he was so claustrophobic with all the kids in there that he screamed and I had to try and get him out. It was so sad.

He liked this activity much pull your body weight and he rocked it.

Camden's other favorite place was the grocery store...he was the clerk for all the girls. It was hilarious.

This photo op was too funny to pass up!

We had such a great time. We were there for almost three hours!!!

The best part was that Aric was able to join us. Most of the time it's just me and the kids on outings because he has to go to class and study.

We had dinner at South Station. One of the funnest places in the city to people watch. We had some Regina's pizza and then headed home. This picture is of Camden at South Station telling me "No more pictures of me mom!"..."Whatever C", was my response.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Parks and Rec

In an earlier post I mentioned how this summer has turned into "Mommy Camp". The two things we do the most are swimming and park playing...

We are so lucky to have both an indoor pool and an outdoor pool at our complex so we spend a ton of time in the water...

I took this picture the very first time we went swimming. He was so ridiculous, he would only sit on the edge with his life jacket.

It didn't take him long to get comfortable, soon he was swimming without the life jacket but right next to the girls in the shallow end.

Then he was on his own in the shallow end...The next thing I knew he was doing handstands and swimming like a fish!

The indoor pool is a little deeper so we like him to still have on his life jacket but as of last night he doesn't need that anymore either. That crazy kid was trying to swim laps! Maya has become a total swimmer. It has been so fun to watch her improve her form and time. She wants to swim on a team so badly. As soon as we are out of here we are getting her on one.

This is his buddy Julian. Julian is a year older than C, they have become quite close these two.

This is Alex. She was the lifeguard at the outdoor pool. We have gotten to know her quite well over the summer. She is from Macedonia. The kids loved her and she loved them. It was sad to say goodbye.

Parks are my best friend out here. We have a couple favorites that we like to go to. There is one close by (Faxon Park) that we have lunch at all the time.

Their next favorite park is what they call the "Rainbow Park" in Jamaica Plain. We go there when we visit Aunt Carolyn and Roscoe.

Since our apartment is so tiny...have I mentioned it's only 970 sqft...we get cabin fever quite often. I am so grateful to have such fun places to go that are free!