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Monday, May 30, 2011

Protected My Heart While Overlooking Emmas

I am looking at a 20 X 40 black and white photo of Isabella curled up on her tummy black hair against a white slip covered sofa that just arrived from Shabby Chic 1 month earlier. I mention the sofa because I had hoped there would be no more lil ones! And it was washable! At least that is how I convinced Kenny into ordering it. Really, he couldn't have care less, he leaves that stuff up to me, smart man!! If you look closely you will she has two black eyes, it was not an easy delivery. What utter shock I was in when Dr John Ness told me I was pregnant with her. I had hoped for our 18th wedding anniversary a vintage Jeep, maybe a 79 Bronco (got it 7 years later under a bit different conditions!). but a baby!! Come on Kenny Dyer, what a dirty trick! It seemed we conceived her on our 18th wedding anniversary weekend. I called him because I am in tears and shock and he meets me for lunch. But, also, in the back of my mind, I knew the church we pastored would find the idea of us having another child almost repulsive or lack of good taste or poor judgement. I had been asked at least a dozen times, joking of course, when Kenny was going to "visit" the doctor?  Wyatt was  6, Coleman was 3. So we decide to hide it. So outwardly not spoken but on some unconscious level. Why? I do not know.  We didn't rely on the church for our livelihood or our necessities, and our bills didn't go to the secretary to get taken care of, our business covered our expenses , even our medical insurances we paid. They didn't treat us to dinners or send us on vacations, and we were just expected to never speak of any of it. We gave back more than we received, and the church was in very good financial standing with a good sum of money in the bank.  Why the embarrassment or shame, I don't know!  Our business would pay for this baby not them. I don't think it was a matter of finances, I think it was a matter of inconveniences. I think it was a matter of the "things", the carpet, the chairs, the tables, whatever, it might have been, their nice neat routine was of more value than, or so I felt, this baby I was carrying.  Emma kept Wyatt and Cole in the back room, so that they would not break or disturb anything or anyone, almost as if they did not exist. As soon as a service ended I would gather them, buckle them in, Kenny would visit, we would sit and wait.  We had many families come through, and many families leave, they would be frank with me and say they just did not feel like there kids were welcome. It was a stifled and stiff environment. There was no room or lead way for a child to be a child. With that said, I will say there was a wonderful woman my children fondly referred to as lil Pam. She had a heart after Gods when it comes to children, unfortunately she, at that time, was coming through a very difficult time in her life, a very, very awful divorce.  So my kids lost her. Also, a song leader named Pam who my children adored, she honored there B'days and Christmas and they loved her, including Emma. It pains me also because, at a very crucial time in Emma's life she was overlooked. It was an attitude, I think, that did the most damage to her spirit. Children are very intuitive, they read people very well, and they know when they are  wanted and when they are not. Kenny and I made it a policy to never speak ill, in front of the children, when it came to church business, because that is not the kind mental seed we want them to place in their minds when it comes to the greatest institution on earth, flawed as it may be.  She was a child and to breed bitterness in her would be a horrible character flaw on our part. But there was no need anyway, she knew. She has often spoke of writing a memoir of her perspective of what it is like to be a pastor's child, but in her case not the star child. If you are not church ed, most PK, that is a church term we use for preacher's kid,  are treated like royalty, honored on B-Day, paid special attention too, just treated like they are of importance not like an "alien" as Emma puts it. As we have faced these trials, Emma broke down, and it is very difficult for her to cry because she is very strong willed and determined child. I have seen her have teeth pulled, minor surgery, sprain a finger with no anesthetic and just suck it up. She is just a very proud, self determined "I will  make my own way" person. So as she sobbed, she said, "Mom you always told me unless I had a bended knee to God my life would never work out." She said, "That "place" she wouldn't even say the name,  for 7yrs, they treated Dad like crap, the best man I have ever known they treated me like I didn't exist, the boys like they were demons, other babies could have juice boxes, but not Bella, they threw a temper-tantrum when you had spent 4 days remodeling the office on your own time.  Dad has lost his business..................where has being on your knees got you? Where has being on his knees gotten him? At least if I am standing I can take the punch. I see so many of poor and shameless character, half the man as Dad, prosper, why mom tell me, why?" OK, now I am crying, even now again 3 yrs later, these pains still hurt. As I saw her broken and wounded, I didn't know what to say. I did not know she had felt the way she felt. I was blindsided. Once again, how had I missed it. I had guarded  my own heart from bitterness and had failed at protecting the one I would have laid my life down for. She was just a child and as I sat week by week, being fed the word of God and Him protecting me from becoming bitter,  she sat back in that nursery texting and talking to her friends, feeling more connected to them and more isolated from the church. Something about being in the presence of God, if you truly seek Him, your heart becomes soft and your strong will becomes weak, these issues at the church became small to me, but they were building in Emma.   Which brings me to another regret I have. We went to our board and wanted to bus the 2 young people we did have to a larger young group across town and out of pride our board said no, and I agreed, a decision, to this day, I regret. I should have stood up for Emma. She was my first responsibility NOT that board even if I had to drive her myself. She needed some positive influence in her life to help her with issues Kenny and were not able to connect with her on. She needed her peers, but in a positive light, a group of kids that would have helped her deal with adolescence in positive and constructive ways. I had 3 little ones and you just get overwhelmed. She had no affirmation when she was at church and certainly she got no positive influence at school. So I stand there looking at her like I am completely naked and stripped of everything and should take the blame for where she has been and what she has experienced.The healing would take on many forms of  attitudes, many relationships and many nights of tears and a long time to began to heal in both of us. I think God was teaching me that my allegiance was to Him not a institution or a group of people, I heard it said , There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America. And that is how I feel about the church. It is the life line to the world, but it is not perfect. I would not want to attach myself to anything else, or teach my children any other way. It is the hope for their lives. It is the hope for our life, even now with all the loss and all the pain, He is our hope. How God chooses to show himself to Emma will be in His time and His way. And Emma will determine when  God does present Himself to her whether she will accept His invition or not. I pray and stand on the promise that I have instill in her that she will  accept  the healing and freedom that comes along with knowing Him, but I cant make that decision for her.  I know it is a very unique dynamic seeing the people you love hurt, seeing your Dad, your Mom, but we have to come to better places in our  own lives as we bcomes adults or we allow bitterness to overcome our  life or we are  no better than the ones we despise.We were not perfect parents,  Emma was not a  perfect child, but we are a family, and  I love the motto.......we begin and we end with family........