What Will the Church Say?

Raw, naked, vulnerable, I sat in the room and listened until I couldn’t anymore. We were discussing Michelle Alexander’s distressing, alarming, so true “The New Jim Crow”, specifically the chapter about what it means to carry the label of felon. Her work deals directly with African-Americans and the War on Drugs yet it is true for anyone caught up in the system. I know, I have a felony conviction from 23 years ago that will never leave me. The formal punishment phase is long over, yet everyday I am reminded that I am less than. I sat in this room at church with these so devoted friends who want to know more, who are asking questions and digging into hard material and I was ready to vomit my shame at their feet. They thought they were talking about abstract others and they were talking about me. Jobs lost, police stops, extra questioning, shame shame shame that never goes away.

Only 2 chapters left in the book, 2 sessions left in the study, is is too late to drop out? I knew it would be hard, I thought it would be so for different reasons. I too am naive. The very thing that makes me want to avoid the group is probably the reason I need to go back, I have been dealing with this brokenness quite openly for almost a year now, March 1st is my blogging anniversary. Dredging up my shame, all the hurtful memories of times I have been pushed back down, is that prep to look at how far I have come? Or really just a bad choice to revisit the past that is not my today and I should go out for a nice walk instead? The words from Steve Wien’s podcast with his wife came back to me this morning, “Be gentle with yourself.”   How to be honest and share those wounds in a way that doesn’t overtake the group, turn it into a session about me while acknowledging  that these events are  hurtful and these assumptions are hurtful and those others are actually sitting right next to you at church? How to take care of me looks more like not stuffing this really hard class back down into the pit with all the other hard times, waiting for the great big eruption in therapy with St. Peter at the gate.

So I will remember. I will tell about the time I found my son almost dead, in his bedroom as I was leaving for church. We called the ambulance, he was taken to the hospital, his stomach pumped. The police came, they ran our names as standard procedure and found my felony. I was separated from my son’s bedside and questioned about whether or not maybe I was hurting him and that was why he had tried to take his life. He was questioned too, to make sure he was safe from me. I wasn’t allowed back with him until he said I wasn’t hurting him. Shame in the midst of trauma and terror and then the doctors no longer looking me in the eye as they gave updates. I was not his mother, the one who found her almost dead son who had overdosed, I was a felon.

I will remember the time I got fired after working for 2 years as a manger at a local thrift store because I chose not to check the box, leaving it blank, not yes or no. I wanted them to ask me so I could tell my story. They skipped it. The hiring manager using a red pen signed off on my application when she hired me and apparently checked the no box, also with her red pen. A stranger complained that I worked there so the owner pulled my application, felt I had lied and fired me. He apologized profusely, said he loved my work, just didn’t have a choice. I was a felon.

I will remember the times, over and over that I did tell my story, did get hired for positions that were all below my skill set and then worked my way up into management level spots, never knowing which day that I walked in would be the one. The one that HR would be waiting there to tell me an anonymous complaint had arrived and while they loved me and had never had a more dedicated employee, they just couldn’t keep me on. Use them as a reference, they love what I brought, but I had to leave immediately. I was a felon, they knew from the beginning, but now some stranger knew as well.

I will remember a local addictions half-way house that loved all the volunteer work I did and asked me to sit on their board, until they found that I had a felony in my past. I was politely and discreetly told I just couldn’t volunteer there. A place that offers hope and second chances shut me out.

I will remember the parents who would not let their children play with mine, the parents at our church who would not let their children come to birthday parities even in public places. Because I am a felon. Shame heaped on me that spilled onto my children.

We punish people with prison sentences, with costly parole and probation fees and time and appointments and then we continue civil and societal punishments to keep them out there, away from the good people in here. A leper colony with oozing sores of criminality, clear violators of our morality. Still, I have found redemption and hope in the cross. I have found friends who care less about where I have been and more about where I am going. I have people who know my story and love me anyway. I have a God who keeps pushing me to get out there, who tells me my shame is the work of evil and He wants me to feel His mercy. The world doesn’t like mercy too much. God wants me to talk about grace so much I dream about it. Amazing grace, we sing those words all the time but do we really offer it to those who most need it?

I was asked in the group if I have ever felt shame for telling my story at church. The wonderful beautiful woman who asked this is one of my secret mentors. She was referring to all the times I have asked for prayers about Arrow. I didn’t know how to answer, I stumbled over my words. No, the church has been incredibly supportive through our journey with our son and his time in prison. Would they respond the same if I were to tell them about me?  My offense is not for drugs, I am a felon. I will always be a felon. Grace tells me I am so much more. Will the church tell me the same thing?

Finding Stella

Four years ago I was on my way to South Korea, carrying only my new tightly packed huge backpack and enough excitement to fuel the multiple modes of transport that would take me to my daughter. I was bringing her home from her year of teaching but first we were traveling to Cambodia and Thailand. Many weeks of traveling, just us and our backpacks. Mine was pink, I sent her a green one. A constant flow of information between us as we selected our routes, planned our hostel stays, determined how little money we could get by on, and especially the detailed plan for me to reach her apartment once I landed at Incheon International and then found the correct subway and then the all important right stop to disembark. I was traveling across the world to see my girl, all alone, Chef dropping me at the local site to catch the shuttle to take me to the airport 3 hours away. Many transfers, many opportunities for me to get mixed up, turned around, lost. I always get lost. This time, though I found my Stella, I was at her apartment when she returned from work, a testament to her preparation and determination to get me there, a story of just how badly I wanted to see my daughter.

I can point to many life events that have shaped and changed me, set my path on a new course. Some are awful, just so horrific they left me wandering in the dark lost and searching for too long. Other events opened me to new lights and greater glorious fields, new ideas and realizations of my more. This trip was the good kind. The very best kind. I saw my daughter as a woman on this trip, no longer my little girl. I loved who she was, who she had grown into. Sure and confident, living in a foreign country, alone and mastering it. She took me to favorite restaurants where owners hugged her as she walked in. She showed me her classrooms where children asked us to take them back to America because they loved her so much. I met her supervisors who said she always had a place there, she was a wonderful teacher. Then we began to travel and she showed me the world. She taught me how to navigate, how to find our way when English is no where to be found. She showed me her soul as we cried over the Killing Fields in Cambodia. She showed me how to play as we laughed with the elephants in Thailand. She taught me to eat  street food that I will never be able to replicate or name. We slept in places we agreed to never tell Chef about, we rode in vehicles we weren’t sure we would survive in. We talked into the sweaty nights and laughed every sweltering day.

I think my daughter is lost now, maybe I am. We can’t find each other. God knows that I would travel on any tuktuk or midnight bus with sketchy hipsters who haven’t showered in forever if it meant I could reach her. A constant flow of apologies, beseeching, anger, crying out to remember who we are, nothing I do seems to cross the divide. My God I miss that laugh, those eyes, that beautiful woman who teaches me things. I miss how her soul, always an old soul, uses creative ways to explore and explain her insides. Her art, oh Lord, her art. I miss how she loved so fiercely that it often broke her, she loved so loyally that she had no understanding of those who left others behind. I can’t find my daughter in this big world, maybe she has lost herself.

Four years ago today I was leaving for the trip that would forever change how I travel and why I travel. It forever altered how I see those around me, those in the places I visit. I seek out their stories, I want to know them and learn how my life is connected to theirs. Because we ARE all connected, that’s what she showed me most of all. She showed me that the water we waste, the clothing we take for granted, the extra food we throw out, the stories of suffering we don’t care to learn as we buy trinkets and bargain for the lowest price, we are connected to others who suffer. Today as I look back on that trip 4 years ago, I am reminded that Stella and I are still, forever connected, once through joy, today through heartache. She knows I will travel the world to reach her, she knows I will stop at nothing once she says she wants to be found. I feel her some days, so close she could be a shadow, a hazy bit of fog, I reach out but cannot touch her.  I trust that God is with her, near her, hovering over, listening to her soul. I know that God celebrates our connections, God loves our reconciliations and seeks restoration in our broken world. One day God will draw the map that will bring us back together. Today, we remember our past travels and keep walking in the light. Soon, Stella, we will meet again and my God won’t we laugh?

 

 

Leaving the Mat

Be Still and Know that I am God. Ps 46:10.  Let go and Let God. I don’t think that one is in there anywhere but I sure hear it often. Both come at me when I am wrestling, when I am struggling and seem to be losing my way. When my faith is shaky, when the foundation under me is crumbling. The words are meant to comfort and guide me, help me catch my breath and center my soul but in the heat of a battle I rarely can remember to be still, to let go. Counterintuitive to any wrestling match, to just stop. What if I let go of my strong hold, the little bit of control I have and all goes to hell-in-a-handbasket, what now? A quick search shows no scripture that guides me in regaining my headlock after release moves. Seemingly, the expectation is to loosen the grip, sit back and listen and wait. Horrible instructions that time and again worked wonderfully, beautifully for those willing to truly follow them.

I have been secretly trying it out. For several months. In the midst of our financial disaster, our estrangement with our daughter, our worry and fear for our son. I have chosen this time to stop wrestling, leave the mat, (I really know nothing of the sport so expect this metaphor to end soon or be misused) shake off the sweat and grime from rolling on the floor with opponents that taunt and mock me. I have taken a shower in God’s promises, I have stopped to listen and most importantly, I have trusted. While hardships stuck their tongue out at me, tried to lure me back into fear and anxiety, while Chef’s mourning threatened to drown me, still I refused to reengage the battle.

Listening for the whispers of God meant seeking out those who hear Him better than me. It meant ignoring those who don’t. It meant being quiet when I wanted to yell or scream or say bad words. It often meant walking away, something that can look hurtful to those on the mat. It meant intentional prayer and seeking out those whose prayers break my soul open.

Letting go meant not sending the cards I wrote out, not putting a stamp on the letters in the envelopes that were fully addressed and ready to hit the mailbox. It meant not reengaging in texting battles (Okay, I had one quick trip back to the mat, but that was an extraordinary circumstance and I found myself feeling filthy and beaten rather quickly. A slip-up that reminded me I am no good at fighting this battle with Arrow.) Letting go meant not accepting the ugliness and desolation that comes with holidays not celebrated with my children, rather being present with ones who were present. It meant allowing Chef to grieve and not falling into depression with him.

What I found is being still and letting go were not passive endeavors, as I have always imagined. I thought I would have to sit. I hate sitting. I thought I would have to wait. I abhor waiting. What I discovered is my time became so full of other pursuits that I barely had time to think about wrestling. No checking the calendar for the next match, I was  off to another meeting, a lunch date, a book club, starting a new ministry. My worry time was transformed, I was transformed.  Before, I said no so often that I was no longer even asked, I stopped looking for ways to grow because I was stuck in the battle. My world was tiny, a gym sized mat consisting of aches over Stella and Arrow, hurts from the past. Allowing myself to let go meant I could say yes. I say yes so often that it is a habit, I am almost becoming an extrovert. (Okay that is a stretch, but I am no longer hiding. An introvert who is out of the shadows is kinda like and extrovert, right?)

It should be noted that resolution has not come to either of those situations. Trust me, if that were true this blog post would start with Hallelujah in the boldest print and then say that 100 times over. Still, I  have a new resolve. I have a new purpose and freedom. I think there just may be something to listening to God and letting God have all of my worries. I pray I can stay off of the wrestling mat, I hope you will join me out of the ring. We can get amazing stuff done out here and trust me, you will feel so much less dirty. Yes, I am now one of those people who just may whisper to you, “Be Still and Know That I Am God.”  Pastor Pat would be proud. Of course his version to me went something like this: Lisa, shut up and listen.  Equally effective.

Will you shut up and listen today, listen for God’s whispering?

Rise Up, Child

Coke is my go-to drink during the day, a glass of wine instead for the evening hours. M&M’s and pop tarts have been mentioned frequently enough throughout my previous writings that no-one would be surprised that those are my easy comfort foods. None of this would please Michelle Obama, I know it isn’t healthy. So I balance it all with lots of fruit and vegetables, a tiny bit of protein (Yuck) and drink too much OJ. These habits are sneaky though, unless I keep mine in check, they threaten to become my lifestyle and not treats I indulge in occasionally. I have another habit that I fight with, think I have beaten, only to find it sneaking up on me at the most unexpected times. I know this habit is not pleasing to God. Well, I don’t Michelle would like it either but God is the one who concerns me here. I am talking about shame.

Like the little jar of candies I have on my desk, I often reach for shame without realizing it. I allow stigma to enter my soul without even the sweet taste of chocolate to ease the way. Reading an old message, wondering if a current one is aimed at me, humiliation sliding down my throat while my skin grows cold and my cheeks begin to flush. Shame is that sick feeling of too much food, knowing it was just too much food. The cold bathroom floor brings the only relief, hidden away, accepting punishment that can never really flush away my stains. Tears, angry floods that never drown my accusers, leave salt trails for soul detectives to follow, will they ever find me?

Then I remember that I choose what enters my body. I do actually love carrots and zucchini and mushrooms. I so love pesto and peppers and fresh peas out of the garden. I don’t have to accept the slurs and sideways glances and dis-grace, I can say no thank you and move away from the Shamers. Like a salad bar with all the best toppings, safe places feed my soul and remind me I am a child of God who has already washed away my sins, He doesn’t need my salty tears to do so. God doesn’t remember who I was, what I have done, He knows who I am. God sends soul detectives to follow the salt trails and whisper to me, “Rise up, child.”

The scars throb sometimes, ache with the memories of all the times I lost my job again, lost my hope again, lost my identity again, because of Shamers. Today is a throbbing day, too much delving into the past, tracing wounds that seek to choke out my soul. How to deal with the pain? Rush to the candy jar? I remember the boo-boo bags we got for Plum when he was just a tiny babe, rice inside soft cloth that can be stored in the freezer and gently applied to any hurts. These bags mold to his legs, his ankles, around his hands. He is big enough to seek out the boo-boo bags himself now, he knows how to stop the hurt himself. Today I will seek out my own healing bags of grace, those who dispel the ghosts of shamers-past and bring cool refreshing mercy. Today I will go to the salad bar of Jesus who offers redemption and a way back from the bathroom floor. Today I will enjoy some pesto and perspective, remember who I am: a child of God who has plans for me. I think that would please Michelle Obama as well.

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Baby

Stretching

A puddle of black water on the counter, again, the damn coffee pot is leaking. Every day I find a stain, a mess, some amount of my morning zing waiting to be sopped up, waiting to be cleared away. Easier to buy a newer coffer maker but funds are tight, gone, thus we are blessed to even have grinds to put in the damn machine so I shouldn’t find offense at the mess. Still, I do. I hate that coffeemaker and the inability to just make a cup without knowing their will be literal fallout. Then I chide myself for the fact that this is my complaint, this?, when so much is wrong all around. So I wipe, scrub, move on. Until the next pot is brewing.

We use the invisible, underground fencing system for our beasts, a system that has worked beautifully for years until recently when our Golden chose to withstand the shock and break free. Sometimes he stands right on the line and gets a really good zap and then just goes. All of this resulted in a pretty yucky infection around his neck, an expensive trip to the vet (several new coffeemakers worth) and 10 days on antibiotics and a full shave around his neck. On the mend now, he is still breaking free. He is huge, he is fast, he is gone. He is making a mess of my free time, I can’t let him out to wander our yard without finding him in the neighbor’s now. Always on the lookout for Plum’s bus, yesterday he chose to go out into the street and try to board it. I considered asking the busdriver to trade me,  all those children for this damn dog. Apparently I need to put in a real fence with the millions of dollars I have hidden under my coffeemaker.

Several days ago Plum ran into the house and asked if it was appropriate for him to know how humans breed. Why did this question not come up when he was riding the bus to mama’s house? Some gentle probing on my part discovered this curiosity was sparked by a Pokemon discussion, I guess they are bred and they evolve and then they get really dumb names. So I somewhat dodged the question. Until he came back for another visit and asked how babies are made. Seriously, kid, you are only 6 and you have parents and I am too old to be trying to remember how much is too much to tell. Where is my coffee? Still, I broke out my best high school science and made his eyes glaze over. Whew, dodged again.  Until bedtime a couple of nights ago when he was preparing to fall asleep, we were snuggling, both in our “walls down, chatting” mode and he asked if boys could have babies. He had me captive, I couldn’t squirm away, I would be breaking our nighttime vulnerable talk rules. So we talked. I explained that it does take mommies and daddies together to make babies but mommies carry them in their bodies. (Please don’t yell at me about all the other possible combinations, I know, I do teach this child about the many ways families can look. I was tired and avoiding.)  Seeds, fertilizing,  growing, beauty, I thought we were going somewhere until he made clear his issue. “Nan, but can daddies ever have the babies?” “No, sweetie, but they get to love them always and care for them always.” “That’s crap! It isn’t fair!” he told me with gusto. I agreed. I told him it was God’s plan so maybe we should take our issue up with Him. “YES!”  So we prayed to God as we laid on the bed, him snuggled under the warm blankets and curled up with his specials.  We told God just what we thought of this situation.  I ended the lament with a request that God get back to us really soon with an answer. Plum and I looked each other, he cocked his eyebrow at me and asked what now? I told him I thought God would get back to us later, we should maybe just go to sleep. He rolled over, closed his eyes and softly said, “You are so silly, gran.”

So much seems to be leaking out right now, breaking through the barriers I have erected. Sneaking through my soul walls, spilling around the edges of my heart. I forget to cry out to God, mostly I just complain and wipe up the mess, stuff down my frustration or leak out my own anger. Remembering that God can take my questions and my wonderings is good. Knowing also that the way we grow is to by stretching, some leaking out of those walls just may be His plan. After all, coffee is still coffee if I use a straw to drink it off of the counter. About the wandering beast, I’ve got nothing.  Breaking free, willing to withstand the pain to get to the other side, all I can see is a neck full of oozing infection and some terrifed  kids on a bus. God surely will get back to me on that. Still I have coffee to drink, beasts to encourage exercise, and a Plum who challenges. Blessings that remind me I am alive, I am still growing. I don’t have answers for everything, I have to seek out the One who does. Then wait for Him to get back to us.

 

Hungry Messy Inconvenient

She looks up at me from the crook of my elbow, the perfect distance for newly developing eyesight according to some researcher. Mothers already know this. She locks eyes with me, I am looking at my granddaughter and also at God. Not the “Strong take care of everything control the world ” God but the “tiny vulnerable captivate your soul” God. My God is sometimes the Father but more often the Child, He comes to me through the children who show me grace and love unconditionally. Is it any wonder that women flock to hold a baby even in the midst of the burdens of their own family? It grows ever harder to see the God in us all as we grow: we are needy and wanting and not always very nice. We don’t smell so good and look so sweet. Yet it is ever so clear staring into the eyes of a baby, God is here.

Still, babies cry and want fed and have to be changed and are highly inconvenient, the backstory you forget when you are a grandma who only has visits or a young woman longing for her first child. Those God moments can be more rare in the trenches. But isn’t that the same with our God? Surely our sins bring screams of agony to our Father, cries that cannot be calmed much like a baby with colic, requiring hour after hour of pacing each evening. I can only imagine God’s pure pain at the hate rising up in our world, the violence and separation, the refusal to tend to our neighbors. God is crying, a neglected babe alone.

Can you envision God’s cries as we feed our guilty pleasures, our addictions, fill our time with social media and leave Him starving for our attention, forgetting that time with Him feeds us too? Long walks noticing creation, baking bread, real honest to God knead the dough and let it rise bread, arranging colors on canvas with intentionality, all are answers I have received when asked “How do you feel closer to God.”  The commonality in the responses is time creating and time apart, maybe from others but certainly from regular life. I believe retreating and creating is when we feed God, when He feeds us. Our souls become open to his nurturance.

Scripture reminds us that God is the same, yesterday today always. But we live in a changing world that requires our involvement. We live in a broken hurting world that demands our engagement. This world is God’s, we are His. To ignore the damage is to ignore the baby with the sopping diaper, soon to have a rashy bottom, soon to be blistered and the agony magnified. We are the ones called to do the changing, to tend to all of God’s children. The ones who have been left neglected the longest may smell badly, have the worst sores and scream loudly when we get near. They certainly don’t present as cuddly babies but imagine how long they have waited for our attention? Like a child with diaper rash, one swipe of ointment won’t fix it. We have to be attentive, we have to keep at it. Closed wounds don’t heal themselves. Homeless don’t find homes, hungry don’t grow food, slaves don’t gain freedom alone.

God is inconvenient. I know He does not make my life any easier. My list of those who have angered me and should be scorned forever, cast into the Dungeon of Non-Forgivables grows shorter as I grow closer to God. I try to bring that list to Him, asking for a smiting, a spell that would do Harry Potter proud but come away we another name crossed off as I lose my own fire. I want to stay mad sometimes. I want to hold on sometimes. Inconvenient. I have another list, a list of topics I will not address in public or mixed company so as not to offend. This one is meeting a similar fate. Rather than disappearing in resolution or forgiveness, this list burns within me and God demands that I speak up. God demands that I begin to talk for those who are not present. God demands that voices rise up to confront hate and bigotry and lies. God demands that this list grow and it is inconvenient for me to get louder.

It is inconvenient for me to follow a God who sees our broken world, my hurting home, my addicted son, my estranged daughter, my grandson who cries for his favorite aunt and wonders when he will see his dad again, how can I follow a God who doesn’t fix all these things? NOW. Then I look into the eyes of this babe and know that He gives me her, a way to see Him. A reminder that He is here, He is near, I just need to keep walking and rocking and working on my lists. With each of her cries and diaper changes, I know I am called to act on her behalf out in the wider world. She is God. Hungry, messy, inconvenient.  I pace with her in my arms, pat her bottom as she falls asleep, and thank God for visiting my soul.

Hideout

Love Whispers, Happy Tears

I carried my Sweetness, my new little bonus granddaughter, through the house yesterday, a milestone. It was her first visit to gran’s house, she will be 8 weeks old tomorrow. She certainly would have been here sooner but beasts are huge and newborns are fragile, mamas are protective. I knew the day of our first visit was approaching, it almost happened earlier in the week but last minute plans changed. We see them in their space almost daily, quick visits to drop off or pick up whatever Plum needs, whatever we have extra of, all excuses to see our Sweetness.  We all know these are lame reasons but continually saying I need some Sweetness in my morning seems a bit intrusive. Instead we say, Plum left his jacket here, may need that. Or, do you have any more dairy pills for the school? So visits there have been numerous, just not at our home. A quick call to mama, an invitation to have daddy help run the beasts with Chef before our day trip left them alone for hours, it was enough to bring mama and daddy and Sweetness to our door. Until they were here, I didn’t realize how important that visit was, how much I wanted them in our space.

I sent Mama to Plum’s room to retrieve extra clothes, to the freezer to claim some extra food. Of course she needed her arms free for all of this, my arms were empty and ready for some Sweetness.  Then an incredible thing happened. I walked throughout the house, into Plum’s room, with this child in my arms and my heart exploded. I looked into her eyes, she smiled and finally slept and I was lost in the déjà vu. Plum’s room that once was a nursery, the toy room that once was mama’s room. Looking out the front windows as birds fluttered from tree to tree, remembering the hours Plum and I sat and watched and sang our “Birdie” song which will never be heard outside our home. Carrying the second child, the sibling, brought a gush of emotion I didn’t anticipate. When I loved him throughout all those walks and rocks to sleep, I was dreaming of the possibilities. Now I have a model of what a grandchild running about the yard looks like. Now I have a real vision to attach to the dreams of pounding feet on the steps and toys scattered about the living room. My soul told Miss Sweetness that one day she too could rush about the back yard and dig in the mud, that we would do experiments in the kitchen and take so many bubble baths. My heart sang to her and she slept in my arms.

Later, as I tried to explain to Plum just how amazing it was to carry his sister around the house, how I remembered doing the same with him, I choked up and began to cry. He said, “Yeah, I know, happy tears.” Joy in the carrying, the sharing, the remembering. Joy in Sweetness sleeping as I walked and rocked and patted her tiny bottom, a rhythm so intrinsic to my body, I music that I hear only with a baby in my arms. The dance of motherhood, of long nights and anguished evenings with colicky babies, my body moves of its own accord. God brought some joy over to our home, a delightful sprinkling of baby coos and remembered dreams. One day I know this home will be filled with all of our grandchildren, Plum shepherding all the little girls about the yard and establishing rules about the toy room. He was here first, will always be the one who broke us in. He opened us so wide, destroyed any walls we tried to erect to protect our hearts, he paved the way for his little sister and his cousins and a new sister to come. He taught us to love under extreme circumstances and to forgive beyond our abilities and desires. He teaches us that he is worth every sacrifice, worth every discomfort and to keep showing up.

In the dark days I never dared even dream of this day thus I know that anything is possible through God’s grace and relentless pursuit of our hearts. I carried my granddaughter through our home and whispered love to her. I told her I carried her big brother the same way. I told her I carried her cousin Princess the same way. I pray I get the chance to know my newest granddaughter while she is still carriable.  One day I will write about Princess visiting again, filling the bird feeder on her own tree. She will introduce me to her sister. Another granddaughter due in May, so many little girls. They will come to play and make messes and I will cry, watching them all through the blur. Plum will assure everyone there is nothing to worry about, he knows my happy tears. After all, they fell on him first.
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