it’s thanksgiving, and i’m reading lamentations.

this post may be a total downer on what should be a happy day. it’s hard for me to care.

today, mothers are weeping for their children, because they are no more.
today, facebook and twitter are venomous, and Christians are doing some of the ugliest spouting.
today, it’s thanksgiving, and i’m reading lamentations.

i don’t know very much about lamenting, but i’m fairly certain that the sorrow i feel over that fact is a step in the right direction. i know what it is to feel sad, to be moved to the point of tears, to mourn and even to grieve. but to lament, to express grief and sorrow, to let anguish run its course and not be concerned with moving on just yet, with that, i am not so familiar. especially when, as in this case, i’m lamenting over my own sin and the sin of those just like me.

sin that looks like scrolling past news articles because “i just can’t handle it.”
sin that looks like bristling at the phrase “white privilege.”
sin that looks like refusing to understand the story of systemic injustice toward blacks in America.
sin that looks like ignoring social justice in my own backyard because i’m “passionate about foreign missions.”
sin that looks like giving the benefit of the doubt to someone who looks like me, and not extending the same grace toward someone who doesn’t.

i could go on for hours.

today, there’s turkey to eat and football to watch and thankfulness to be proclaimed, yet so much of what i should feel thankful for sits trite and ridiculous in my mind, because today, it’s thanksgiving, and i’m reading lamentations. if i am thankful for anything today, it’s the opportunity to speak up on behalf of the oppressed, to recognize that my rights are not to be clung to, but lain down. i’m thankful that there is no fear in love. i’m thankful that i am no longer embarrassed to admit how little i know about what it’s like to be black in this country, but i want to understand, i want to partner, i want to come alongside.

but what about the looting?
but what about black on black crime?
but Michael and Trayvon were aggressive, but Tamir reached for a (toy) gun.
but what about the grand jury decision? don’t you believe in our justice system?

what i believe is that sin has permeated the very marrow of our beings. i believe that the gospel is the. only. answer. to the racial divide that it’s time we all acknowledge. i believe that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, and he didn’t stop to make sure we weren’t stealing from a convenience store (or writing ugly Facebook posts) before he gave himself to death. to step into the racial divide, admitting ignorance and asking for grace, is not to validate the sins that have occurred on either side of the line. it is to acknowledge that we are all in need of grace and it is time we offer some in the form of asking questions, listening to answers, apologizing for generational sin, grasping hands and refusing to be silent when a segment of our community is treated as though they are not equal image bearers of the God who created each of us.

we teach our children to apologize for their part in wrongdoing, to stop being so worried about who sinned first, to confess any and all participation in hurting one another without saying “but he did X,Y or Z.” X, Y or Z don’t disappear when we apologize first; we’re not saying they weren’t important or painful or wrong. we’re saying that we are also responsible, that we are not innocent, that we want to eliminate the Xs, Ys and Zs from our own lives for the sake of one another and the glory of God.

it’s time to go stuff a turkey now, to decorate a table and watch a parade with my kids. i’ll be present today, thankful for all we have and intent on making those memories that holidays have a way of turning magical. but i’ll also be begging God for the insight of where to go from here, and i’ll probably ask those sitting at my table as well. i’ll be looking for ways that my thankfulness can inspire action, and in a corner of my heart i’ll continue lamenting, hoping for a more public, communal forum in which to do so in the days to come.

today, it’s thanksgiving, and i’m thankful i can learn more about God’s heart by lamenting, by trusting that His grace is enough, that the gospel is the answer to all brokenness and fractures within and around me.

will you join me?

Finding Delight

These recent days have been long and tiring, those with doctors appointments and work responsibilities stretching my brain to its capacity and those at home sometimes (honestly) quite dull. Since I can tend to emphasize the heavier things on this blog, I thought I’d take a little break and share some ways I’ve been able to find some relief, some fun, some delight recently.

Finding Delight Collage

Am I the last person in the world to finally start following Serial? Holy moly! I just started listening today and am completely hooked. It’s a nonfiction podcast that stays with a story until the producers “get to the bottom of it.” I love the idea of listening to stories rather than always watching or reading them. In other words, I’m reliving the Adventures in Odyssey days.

I took the time this weekend to put together a few essential oil roller bottles and I am SO glad I did. These little containers are so easy to carry around and make application quick and simple. The two (fuzzily) pictured here are for relaxation and postpartum, and I made some combos for the little boys’ sleep, cellular repair, and more! Combined with doTERRA’s Lifelong Vitality Pack and Cellular Energy/Stamina supplement, these natural, effective products help me engage my days rather than just survive them. (You can receive a free Lifelong Vitality Pack with doTERRA‘s Enroll in Life promo until this Saturday, 11/15. Email me at abbyjoyperry (at) gmail (dot) com to learn more!)

I’m anxiously awaiting my first StitchFix package and I can’t wait to see what it contains! StitchFix is a personalized styling service and filling out my style profile was a lovely moment of lighthearted fun. I paid a $20 styling fee and I’ll receive five items based on my style profile. I can use the styling fee toward my purchases and if I keep all five items then I’ll get them for 25% off. Sounds like a deal to me! The program also uses affiliate links (like the one above), so there’s opportunity for even greater savings.

Gilmore Girls appeared on Netflix right around the time Gabriel was born. Best ever. Nothing brings about a happy little moment at the end of an “in the thick of it” day like some Lorelai and Rory banter. I’ve seen all the episodes a few more times than I’ll say here, and I probably will continue to re-watch them until I understand all of the cultural references (read: never).

I’m sure I’ll be back to my regularly scheduled style of writing soon, but today I’m thanking God for giving me the freedom to enjoy little bursts of refreshment and hoping you experience the same.

Find some delight.


 

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the wait and the weight.

Gabriel’s feet are progressing very well. I can hardly believe how much they have changed in just a month’s time. The appointments are miserable but quick, and he, by God’s grace, sleeps soundly in the car on the long ride home. The evening is usually unpleasant, the few days following difficult as well. This time has been much better, though, as if Gabriel knows he’s progressing and that gives him the encouragement he needs to endure.

gabe collage

My conversations with the doctor were relatively light in topic for the first few appointments. She is generous in her storytelling and smiles, working hard to keep me engaged in pleasantries so I don’t get lost in Gabriel’s obvious discomfort. She is a mother of three and I’m thankful for her maternal touch, funny anecdotes, chipper voice. At the last appointment, however, her tone changed a bit. She told me, carefully and succinctly, that Gabriel is yet to show a reflex in his feet that she expected to see by now. “He won’t wiggle his toes or move his feet. I can tell he feels me touching them because he moves his legs, but I don’t know if he can move his toes or feet. We need to get an ultrasound of his spine to check for fatty tissue that could be blocking his nerves. If the ultrasound doesn’t reveal anything, we will need to get an MRI. But let’s start with the ultrasound, because the MRI requires general anesthesia.”

Spine. It took every ounce of strength inside me to keep listening after that word.

Anesthesia. Again. He is already having surgery when he is three months old on his Achilles tendons. Anesthesia twice as an infant? Most adults I know haven’t experienced that. Suddenly the risk waivers risk that I’ve so cavalierly signed (without reading) for my own procedures seem to wave before me like giant red flags.

Gabriel’s ultrasound was planned for last Friday until the hospital called to reschedule it. “An error in the system, the right technician won’t be here on Friday,” they explained. In order to accommodate our schedule due to his next casting appointment, we have to wait until Thursday to have the ultrasound conducted, perhaps another week after that before we hear the results.

And there are moments when all I can think about is the wait. And the weight.

The wait stretches me thin and the weight stifles me spent and the two combined make a deep breath nearly impossible to come by. The wait for tests, for answers, for plans, for diagnosis is so familiar in the worst way, like a leaky faucet that drips water once again after endless attempts to repair. The weight of what we could learn camps staunchly in a corner of my brain, edging always toward the center, toward the forefront, forcing me to fight against its tentacles of fear. The answer could be a mountain, it could be a boulder, it could be a balloon that floats away at Gabriel’s next appointment if the clubfoot treatment leads the issue to self-correct. There is no point in fretting during the wait, or worrying over the weight, because we don’t know what the outcome will be. And even if we did, even when we do, I’ve never known a resolution conjured up by fret or worry.

But that doesn’t make it easy.

I’m fighting like a madwoman to keep all the hypotheticals at bay, standing on the shore of my mind with shield in hand to protect myself against the crashing waves of what could be and what I would do if it were so and what our life could be like if nightmares come true.

Owen runs through the entryway for the 80th time in a day and I beg God to let his brother join him someday. I look at the verse hanging in Gabriel’s room, “The Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught,” and I wonder if that will be physically true for Gabriel this side of eternity. I wonder if all of this will evaporate at next week’s appointment, or if the wait and weight are here to stay a while longer. I wonder if I’ll be a mother forced to learn what it is to watch a child suffer beyond friendship strains and homework frustrations and athletic disappointments. I wonder how I got here and if I’m strong enough to keep standing if my son can’t.

Some may say that it’s silly for me to ask all these questions right now. We don’t know what will happen, after all, this could all just go away. It’s true. But it’s also true that the questions are here today, that they threaten to overcome me and require me to call on every ounce of strength the Holy Spirit can provide in order to keep my thoughts captive, to echo “not my will, but Yours.” Regardless of the outcome, I want to be able to look back and know that God gave me the power to cling to Him during the wait and hide in Him under the weight, that I believed my spirit could not be torn or crushed because He was holding it safe. I want to remember this time as an acknowledgment of my own fragility and a recognition of His unshakable power that kept me in one piece.

This won’t be the last hard thing, of that I’m sure. I want to be in the habit of trusting Him, the habit of letting myself ask and question and learn what it is to believe when doubt shouts loud. The wait and the weight actually seem much bigger when I seek to ignore them; the first step in harnessing them is to acknowledge that they exist, that they are real, that God is bigger. He beckons me out onto the water, and I’m admitting to Him and to myself that it’s not instinctive to walk on waves. I need practice, and He is gracious enough to give it, even when the shallower parts of me would prefer He didn’t.

When all is said and done, the only thing there is left to do is to lock eyes with Him, to be the person I said I would be in my first ever post on this blog – the kind of person who wrestles with the Man and will not let go without a blessing. The wait for eternity and the weight of glory are far too valuable for me to ignore, far too significant for me to despise, even when the current wait and weight seek to make me believe that they are greater, that they have a stronger hold over me.

I am holding on; I am being held.

And the wait and the weight lose their grip.

a slight clearing in the fog.

I asked Jared to help me find some time away this week, just an hour or two to sit at a coffee shop with the mission to determine if I still have it in me to write, to see if I’m still the same person somewhere in there, the person who puts words together to make some fraction of sense from the world, to stay somewhere in the realm of sanity. It took me about ten minutes and 39 sips of coffee to write that run-on sentence, so the verdict is still out.


Andrea Scott Photography
Andrea Scott Photography

Gabriel Anderson Perry joined our family on September 26, six weeks ago tomorrow. His birth was beautiful and sacred, filled with doctors and nurses who listened to my every wish and did all they could to grant them, to make something as unnatural as a Cesarean as serene and special as possible. We played music during the surgery and I whisper-sang, “Give me vision to see things like You do,” just before Gabriel was born. I’d like to believe God granted my request, that He gave me His eyes to see Gabriel for the first time, because the moment he came into view, all I could see was beauty. He was lying on my chest within seconds of entering the world, full, pink cheeks and lips to sweet for words receiving a hundred kisses from mine. I cried the same tears that I only have twice before, the day I married Jared and the day Owen was born, the tears that burst forth when the soul is doing the same.


I suppose it’s normal to still be dancing in a bit of fog at this stage, especially when the past 41 days have included four trips to Houston for casting appointments amidst the already wild weeks of adjusting to a life with two littles two years old and younger, newborn schedules, hormones eager to re-regulate (or is it just that I am?) and the itch to discover what our life “looks like” now. I’m entirely unsure how much of this is typical and how much is related to Gabriel’s clubfoot journey, not that it really matters. Some days the fog starts to clear and then I catch of glimpse of his casts and my vision gets blurry again. Some days the very same glimpse clears the fog all the more, reminding me just how great a privilege it is to watch over one who has a bit extra to overcome.


It can be difficult not to fantasize about life with a second-born who doesn’t have any medical issues. My unrealistic notions tempt me to believe that life would be so easy, that I would already have this Mom of two thing down and be on to climbing some new mountain, like opening our home for our first foster care placement, or writing more consistently, or accomplishing something else on my list of someday dreams. Likely, none of what I believe life would be like is true, but even if it is, that’s not the point. As Brett Harris said, “This is not some big distraction. This is not some huge detour. This is the path God has for us and it leads somewhere good.” I am stretched and sore physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. If I remember correctly, stretching leads to greater flexibility, soreness is a sign that muscles are growing stronger. This is my hope for Gabriel physically, and my hope for myself in every dimension of life. If my mission is to see Thy Kingdom Come, I’ll take all the flexibility and muscle I can get.


It feels both hard and good to get these words out, the same way most of life feels hard and good right now. I know I’m not the only one living in this tension, far from it. If you’re one of us, I hope that reading this post helps you believe that there’s good amidst the hard for those who love Him, the same way that writing it helps me believe.


A full cup of coffee and over an hour later, and I’d say I’m still me, still writing and erasing and re-writing in order to find some sense and meaning. I’ll be back soon.