Lulu Land

My Adventures in Mommahood

Son of Hope

If you’re like me, you’ve often been guilty of dismissing people.  The drug addict, the mentally ill, the homicidal dictator.  You know – the hopeless cases.  A family member who has more suicide attempts under his or her belt than a tree has leaves, or a friend, so bitter and angry, she doesn’t know which way is up.  Most of us know someone who has bought into the enemy’s lies, hook, line, and sinker, and is so mired in his propaganda that we’ve written them off as a lost cause.  We may not admit it and we’d probably never say it out loud, but we act like it.  We act like there is no hope for them.

And why not?  Surely at least SOME of these men and women deserve to be dismissed, to rot in jail, to pay for their sins.  After all, they made their beds, right?  Surely, for some people, it certainly isn’t likely that they will turn their lives around.  Maybe even impossible, right?

Wrong.

It’s difficult to think of a better example of a lost cause than David Berkowitz.  You may know this man better by the name given to him by the New York press – the Son of Sam.  If you don’t know the story, you can read the Wikipedia version here, but for my purposes, I’ll fill you in on the basics.  In the early 70s, David Berkowitz terrorized the city of New York, and North America with his bone-chilling letters, threats, and the subsequent murder of six women.  David Berkowitz was the epitome of a lost cause.  A life that at one time may have been useful and valuable became futile and senseless.  When he was finally arrested and tried in 1977, David Berkowitz was condemned to serve out six consecutive life sentences.  Essentially, his life was over.  He had chosen his path and now he would spend the rest of his life paying for it.  He will eventually die in prison.  And justice, maybe, demands that he should.

But that’s not where the story of David Berkowitz ends.  Last Sunday, our pastor and dear friend shared a video containing recent interviews with the notorious Son of Sam.  I remember exactly what I was thinking as I watched the first ten minutes of that video: ‘Yeah right.  And then he repents, God saves him, and he’s a new person – blah, blah, blah.  Not buying it.”

Shame on me.

And not just because after watching the video I was convinced that his conversion was real, (which I was), but for thinking that anyone is too far gone for God to transform.  For thinking that some things, that some people, are just impossible to change.  Shame on me.

God got a hold of this man’s heart.  (You can read a transcript of an interview with Larry King here)  David Berkowitz will still spend the rest of his life in prison, but it is no longer a prison of guilt and anguish.  He is a living example of God’s grace.  Undeniable proof that God does miracles, even in the most hopeless of cases.

I’ve had a bit of first-hand experience with society’s castoffs.  My husband works as a chaplain in the local jail.  He spends nearly every day speaking Truth into the lives of men and women who seem too far gone for any sort of lasting change to occur.  Drug dealers, murderers, rapists, abusers, addicts.  I’ve always thought that it takes a very special kind of person to do what he does, and I still do; but I also know now that it’s simply a matter of believing that God can do the impossible.  And believing it so strongly that you can stand up and declare, “You are not worthless.  Your case is not hopeless.  As long as there is breath in your body, God can still do a miracle.”

So, this is what I want to say:  To the person with family members so caught up their sin and the lies of this world that, in your heart of hearts, you’re tempted to give them up for lost – DO NOT GIVE UP.  God can always do a miracle.  Even in the most hopeless of circumstances.  And to anyone reading this who has believed the lie that YOU are a hopeless case, know this: There is no such thing as a lost cause.  You are not too far gone; there is still time.  God loves you.  He gave His son for you and no matter how big the abyss of sin and self-hatred you’re living in, He can pull you out of it.  All you need do is ask.  Your story is not over yet.

My fellow believers in Yaweh, the God of the Bible – our God is the God of the impossible.  Let’s believe it.  And start living like it is true.

 

Silence is (Not So) Golden

If you ever want to torture me, send me to church and don’t allow me to talk.  Really.  Not once in the last six days have I wanted to break radio silence more than I did this evening.  Our church held our annual “town hall” meeting, which is really just a time for us to get together and talk about what we’d like to see in the future, where we think God might be leading us, what we think is working or not working, etc.  Oh, and we eat a lot of yummy food.

I love my church.  Those of you who know me well know what a miracle it is for me to say that.  I love going every Sunday and I love praying and studying the Bible together on Wednesday nights.  I love hearing about what God is doing in other people’s lives and I especially love the people God has given us to do life with.  I love that we are all just a bunch of misfits learning to love God better and hear his voice more.  Some of us are farther along in that journey than others, but that’s what keeps it interesting.

So you can imagine my distress at being in a room full of my church family and not being able to talk to them!  I couldn’t tell Monica that her hair looked nice or talk to Bette-Jean about my week.  All I could do was hug people.  I did a lot of hugging tonight.

Day 7 tomorrow and (gulp) it’s Sunday, which means I’m going to church.  (More hugging and smiling and scribbling on my notepad.)  It’s really tempting to hide out in the house until this voice rest is over, but I know I can’t do that.  For my own sanity.  So tomorrow I’m going to learn how to worship God in a corporate setting without singing or talking.  Should be very interesting…

 

Love is Mute

Telephone.  Remember that game?  I’m pretty sure we’ve all played it.  Everyone gets in a line and the first person whispers something like, “Mr. Robb has an elegant wife” and then each person whispers it to the next person and so on and so on until it gets to the last person in line.  This poor kid then has the distinguished honour of shouting out the phrase, which by this time has somehow morphed into “My blob has an elephant smile” or something equally absurd.

I feel like my life is a never-ending game of telephone.  No matter what I start out trying to say, it inevitably ends in confusion.  Since I didn’t have the kids yesterday, I decided to forgo the whole frenzied charade routine and just use my trusty little notebook. Still, it took me twenty minutes (between grinning and gasping for air) to convince Jon that what I had written on the paper was not “Dr. Planet” but was indeed a reference to Sofia’s brown blanket.

So much for finishing each other’s sentences…

Even Silent Clouds Have A Silver Lining

Day Three.  I found myself pursing my lips and blowing air through them in an attempt to make a noise, any noise.  I’m starting to wonder if I will ever speak again.  Maybe I can’t.  Maybe I never could.  Is it too early in my voiceless journey to be going crazy?

And…

This afternoon I coughed.  I couldn’t help it.  There was this tickle in the back of my throat, see, and no amount of huffing and puffing or yawning would relieve it.  So I coughed.  Afterwards, my throat itched even more and I had to distract myself with homework to keep from repeating this glottal mutiny.  What is it in me that causes such rebellion to rise at the thought of being told what to do?  Or, in this case, what not to do.  Is anyone else out there just tired of being human?

As day four approaches, I’m adding new methods to my madness.  For instance, I’ve discovered that my throat becomes very dry after a few hours of inactivity and so it’s vital that I douse it with water quite often.  I no longer go anywhere without my precious bottle of tepid O2.  Unfortunately, this also means I make frequent trips to the bathroom.  Yes, even more frequent than usual.  (Ha ha.)  I have also discovered one of the few perks of this prolonged silence – I do not (EVER) have to answer the phone!  There’s a silver lining if I’ve ever heard one.  Gold.  Platinum really.

The kids seem to be handling my unusual lack of loquaciousness with a sense of compassion and tolerance that belies their age.  Kids are so forgiving aren’t they?  Although, I’m convinced that Sofia still hasn’t noticed that I’m not speaking, Jonah continues to surprise me with small acts of kindness, like the patient way in which he waits for me to communicate with him in my slow, charade-like way.  I wonder when he’ll grow tired of this little game and realize that this is the opportune time to take his not-so-rightful place as the king of the house.  Gulp.  I’d better have my whistle ready…

 

Life As I Know It

Went to the movies with my girls (Bev & Amanda) tonight. We managed well enough, as good friends should. After all, what’s a bit of silence between friends, right? We went out for coffee afterwards and “talked.” It’s interesting. It’s almost like a part of me is not quite there when I can’t talk. Who knew the conversation would go on without me? Still, I did manage to use my little pad of paper and pen to interrupt (my specialty) a few times. I also interjected some jokes. I use the term “interjected” very loosely as communication depended largely on mouthing words, moving my hands in wide, expressive arcs and the painstakingly long process of scribbling words on my small notepad, which at one point prompted Amanda to turn to Bev and comment that talking to me was like having a facebook conversation with someone who types really slowly. Nice. Of course she also pointed out that I need to get over my obsessive compulsive need to use correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation in my scribbled notes. Once I succumbed and began using short form, it cut my writing time in half. Of course, now I had to be sure to use short hand that others could understand. Grt/tm of lv 08? probably doesn’t make and whole lot of sense to anyone but me…

I am completely worn out from the sheer effort of trying to keep up with conversation, so that’s all I’m going to write for now. I’ll leave you with this thought: I wonder – can one enjoy the company of friends without contributing much more to the conversation than a few smiles or a mouthed word here or there? Or does real friendship depend too much on give-and-take for that kind of imbalance?

2 days down, 26 to go…

Whistle While I Work

All day I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to write tonight, at the end of day one of my silent adventure.  I’ve been thinking it hasn’t been that bad.  There were a few moments of frustration, as I’d expected, a few moments of downright hilarity, but all in all, it wasn’t too bad.  I managed to get Jonah dressed and ready for school with less whistle blasts than I’d expected (only one!) and spent the morning playing and cuddling with Sofia.  I honestly don’t think she noticed any difference in me whatsoever.  After all, I still smiled hugely and enthusiastically at the sky scraper she built out of blocks; I still chased her around the kitchen and tickled her until she laughed herself to tears.  I changed her diaper – no gagging sounds or feigned disgust at the nasty smell, but still she was clean and dry.  I fed her breakfast and lunch.  We cuddled up and watched TV for a bit.  It was a pretty typical morning, really.  I am convinced that she hasn’t yet noticed that I’m not talking.

Jonah, on the other hand, thinks it’s all one big, wordless game.  My whistle is a continual source of entertainment for him.  I only had to use it twice today to get his attention, which is about a thousand times less than I’d anticipated.  He spent the rest of the afternoon chasing me around begging to blow it himself.  So annoying…

The most frustrating part of the entire day was not being able to verbally tell the kids that I love them.  Of course, I tell them in a hundred different ways, all day long.  I smother them with kisses, cuddle with them, kiss their boo boos, etc.  What I didn’t realize was the frequency with which I actually say the words.  Nor how I especially count on being able to tell Jonah that I love him when I have to discipline him.  I was determined to get my point across.  I must have signed the words a hundred times – first pointing at myself, then crossing my arms over my chest, then pointing at him.  Let me tell you, that form of common-sense-sign-language is not as commonsensical as one would think.  Finally, after the hundredth time signing like a maestro on crack, trying desperately to make him understand, I had the bright idea to use my computer to speak to him.  (Long story short, I figured out a way.)  I beckoned him excitedly over to the computer and hit the button.  As the words, “I – LOVE – YOU” floated out from the laptop speakers, I deliberately signed each word.   He grinned from ear to ear and exclaimed, “THAT’S what that means?  I thought you were mad at me!”

Apparently, the fierce intensity with which I was trying to communicate my love gave him the impression that I was angry.  Oops.

Thankfully, day one is finally over.  I’m exhausted from all the wild hand gestures and the over-exuberant facial expressions.  But I made it through the entire day without making one single noise.  Some, those who know me well, would call that a miracle.  Those who know me better would call it pure willpower.  Even so, strength of will may have gotten me through today, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that I’m going to need to hit my knees, big-time, if I’m going to keep it up.  Lord, I’m about to test that whole spirit-of-power-love-and-self-discipline thing in a very real way.

One day down, twenty-seven to go.

Mute Momma

So, this month is going to be a challenge.  More than usual, I mean.  Why?  Because from November 1st until November 29th I will be on strict vocal rest.  This means no talking, no singing, not even whispering for four weeks.  It’s a long story, but basically, I’ve injured my vocal chords and, if I ever want to be able to sing again, I’m going to have to take some drastic measures.

I have no idea what the next month is going to look – or sound – like or how this therapy is going to translate into my daily life as a wife and mother, (surely it will involve some laughs and a lot of frustration) but it has to be done and, even though I’m not quite sure I’m up for the challenge, I’ve decided to give it my best effort and take each day as it comes.

And why not have fun blogging about it, while I’m at it?  For those of you who are interested, here are the “rules”:

For the next four weeks, I must not:

  1. Speak
  2. Sing
  3. Hum
  4. Whisper
  5. Cough
  6. Clear my throat
  7. Laugh (I can still smile, thank goodness)
  8. Lift or push heavy objects (does this include Jonah?)
  9. Make forceful efforts during bowel movements (this one is my favourite.  lol)
  10. Smoke

Today, I begin my silent journey armed with two whistles, a notepad, and a huge repertoire of facial expressions and hand gestures.  Anyone want to start taking bets as to how long I will last?