Saturday, March 08, 2014

A Story and a Sort-of Blessing

A story about kitchen towels. There's no point to this story other than that it's just a story, and maybe one with a small wish for blessing at the end.

On Tuesday morning, the kids and I went to TJ Maxx for a little shopping excursion. In an effort to help T grow in generosity and thoughtful gift-giving, even at the tender, selfish age of three, I've been taking him to stores and letting him pick out gifts for people. We've done this three times with a surprising degree of success: duct-tape and gorilla glue for grandpa, kitchen goods for a house-warming basket, dog treats and toys for a friend who loves her pets. This day, it was another house-warming basket and, after I made my requisite turn through the kids toys and clothes section (we bought an anthology of Curious George books), we made our way to the housewares.

T was completely uncooperative. He whined. He protested by sitting on the floor. He declined to even weigh in on the color of dish towels or a flavor of salt. When the whining reached a crescendo of crying, I decided to give up, buy what we had, and come back another day for more. I put the crying kid in the shopping cart, held the almost-too-heavy-to-hold-for-long other one, and we stood in the checkout line. We moved up to the cash register. I had the cart half-unloaded when T let out a little cry and a mouthful of puke. And another. And another.

He started screaming. I put E on the floor, which prompted her to start screaming. I was catching puke in one hand and holding my wallet in the other. I asked the still-oblivious cashier for a bag. "My son is throwing up!" She looked up and froze. It was probably only for a second, but it felt like a lifetime; it was at least enough time for a few more handfuls of puke to cover me and screamers 1 & 2.

The clerk came to her senses and handed me a bag and then rustled up a tub of sanitizing handwipes. She didn't know what else to do (and neither did I), so while I tried to clean up over the din of two screaming children, she kept scanning my purchases.

What's the protocol here? She's got 3/4 of my items scanned. Do I just give up and bolt? Or do I hold out for what was literally only a minute or two, subjecting other shoppers to the puke and the screams, and just swipe my credit card with my one clean hand and then bolt?

I opted to pay. Got my bags loaded into the cart, got the puke wiped up off the floor as best I could, dragged the shopping cart (and screaming kids) through ankle-deep slush across an entire parking lot, loaded (still screaming) daughter in her car seat. Moved to the other side of the car to deal with the puker, who was also still screaming. He was covered in puke; thankful it was a moderately warm day (by which I mean 30 or 40 degrees outside), I stripped his clothes off of him, strapped him in his seat and wondered if I should run back into the store to buy him clothes or just survive the 5 minute drive home.

"Mom, I'm cold! I'm shivering!"

Aha! Part of our housewarming basket was a set of dish towels. I tore open the package and lined them up on his body, from chest to toe, with one leftover that I gave him and told him to puke into if he needed to throw up again on the way home.

He puked for the rest of the day and into the night, resting his head and wiping his face on those dish towels the whole time. When it was all over the next day, I threw them in the wash with the rest of the dirty linens and clothes that needed to be washed on the "sanitize" setting. And then I folded them up and put them in the house-warming basket with a little giggle.

For someone who is starting a new chapter of life, what better blessing can you wish for them than this: "May your life be full, full enough that these towels will be used again and again, on dishes dirtied by happy diners, on faces smeared with joyful smudges, for heads needing rest after adventures and excitement (both the planned and unplanned kind), on counters messied by hands you have yet to hold. We've started the process in the messiest way; go forth and continue the adventure. Or, be grossed out by the fact that they've been puked on and use them to clean your car. Up to you."

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

What's Left

This past week was a particularly rough one for me as a mom. It probably has to do the most with adjustments needed in my heart, but it felt so physically and emotionally demanding that tears leaked down my cheeks while I made dinner one night and didn't stop for good until I fell asleep.

"I need a break," I thought.

But then, even more discouraging, where would I even go? What would I even do?

I like to think of myself as a person with passions and talents, but in the moment of feeling so drained, so consumed (as in, being eaten alive), by those two small parasite human beings that I birthed, I felt like there was nothing left of me.

Mine is a world in which "me" doesn't seem to be indulged much, by necessity. I believe with all my heart that this world does not revolve around me, and that it is indeed good for me to be constantly reminded of this fact. In this way, kids are like pesky alarm clocks that don't have snooze buttons. You do what you have to do when you have to do it in providing for their needs, be it hugs, food, discipline, butt wipes, or middle of the night sheet changes; it is hard, but it sanctifies, and that is good.

This past week, it just felt like it sucked me dry and then some, and I began to wonder if, when God got done stripping away all of the selfish "me," if there would be anything left.

Sometimes the stripping away is gradual, like sloughing off dead skin -- you barely notice it. Sometimes, it's deliberate, sharp and painless, like shaving your legs. Sometimes it's like ripping off a bandaid - quick, intense and then it's done. And sometimes it's like a sunburn - it hurts as soon as it's happened, it hurts while it's peeling, and it takes a while to heal (and that's hoping that it doesn't give you cancer).

Usually, whenever you see that you are losing part of yourself, it's at least a bit painful and scary.

And regardless of how it happens, I'm not usually a huge fan of the process (there are so many things I'd rather be doing than catering to the immediate needs of the consummately needy). But sometimes, I just so badly want to be reassured that there will be a recognizable "me" at the end of the process.

I think there will be.

When God made me, he made me with care, creating unique features and likes and abilities that will last for eternity. When all the frail and all the fallen is stripped away, I will not only still be me, I will be more "me" than ever.

I just ... I desperately need to hold onto that on days when my eyes keep leaking because I can't get a break. All of this stripping away, crushing, reshaping, burning off dross, it's not just for the kids, it's for me (because that is how I will best comprehend and display the goodness and the greatness of God -- let's never forget that). It is more constructive than destructive. There still is and will be a "me," and it's the only "me" that will be worth keeping.

PS - I mostly wrote this a few days ago and I'm a bit better now, in case you were wondering.
PPS - David Powlison's "Anti-Psalm" and meditation on Psalm 23 are the perfect "Yes, that's me!" description to how I was feeling and the biblical antidote. Do read and bookmark it if you never have.

Monday, February 03, 2014

On Repeat


The song on repeat in my head and on YouTube today is "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation" (Fernando Ortega has a great version). I'm so thankful for the aligning power of corporate worship. Sometimes you have to take the alignment on faith; other times, every song, every verse, the confession, the sermon, the Lord's Table, it all feels like an arrow shot straight and true as it hits its mark.

I say that by way of preface because this was our first song yesterday in church. Preface point #2: when I was in seminary, David Powlison would often begin class by "exegeting" a favorite hymn. As these words flooded over me yesterday morning, I tried to take note of why they calmed my facing heart and how they could and should become a centering point for my week.




Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.
 
My primary purpose here is to praise, and I get to praise the all-powerful, omniscient creator and ruler of all creation. Oh, my soul, do praise him - shed all of the frustrations of the morning, the tears and wrangling and spilled yogurt. You have everything you need: health and salvation. And those come from God alone, regardless of what your heart tells you all week long. He alone is your health and salvation; he gives you everything you need, perfectly timed and allocated, irrespective of when and how you think you should have your needs met. Stop fretting, calm your racing, distracted, exhausted heart; hear his call, draw near to him and praise him in glad adoration.
 
Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires e’er have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?
 
 One reason to stop and to praise God is that he reigns over everything; but he is not only all-powerful, he is also gentle, caring and intimately involved in the smallest details of your needs. He shelters you under his wings like a mama duck, and he gently sustains you in every breath, in every toddler crisis -- what a contrast to my frenetic responses, but as my perfect Heavenly Father, he is gentle with me and with my children, even in the midst of the fray. Have you ever not had what you truly need? Haven't your desires gradually been shaped by the Lord so that you can, indeed, say that your desires have been granted in what he ordaineth?
 
Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee;
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.
 
 Here is a funny one for a stay-at-home mom: he prospers they work and defends thee. All the seeming futility, he does in fact prosper. Feeling battered and totally beaten down by the end of the day; he defends thee. His mercies are new every morning; but, in fact, his goodness and mercy attend me all day long. "Ponder anew what the Almighty can do, if with his love he befriend thee." He has, in fact, already befriended me, and he has set his love upon me for eternity, so I can approach each day, each week expecting to see the Lord at work, especially knowing that his goodness and mercy are always with me. Dare I say that I should always be living as though my cup overflows?
 
These are two verses I've never heard before, but they were on the website where I grabbed the lyrics, and I'm including them because I thought they were quite nice:
 
Praise to the Lord, who, when tempests their warfare are waging,
Who, when the elements madly around thee are raging,
Biddeth them cease, turneth their fury to peace,
Whirlwinds and waters assuaging.
 
Praise to the Lord, who, when darkness of sin is abounding,
Who, when the godless do triumph, all virtue confounding,
Sheddeth His light, chaseth the horrors of night,
Saints with His mercy surrounding.
 
Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him;
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him.
 
I love how old hymns crescendo - there's no halfhearted praise here. "All that is in me... all that hath life and breath ... gladly for[ever] we adore him." I don't have anything profound to say here ... only, Let the Amen sound from this daughter again, and again, and again, because I need this reminder until I meet the Lord in the presence of his people and am realigned again next week.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Our Father

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a perfect parent?

Not a house-always-perfectly-clean-and-organized, amazing-meal-making, perfect-party-throwing Pinterest parent (not to mention perfect abs, always using the right essential oils, and brewing my own kombucha -- oops, are my insecurities showing?). No, I mean in a deeper, always-knowing-just-what-your-child-needs-and-being-able-to-provide-it-for-them way.

I was telling HH the other day (Handsome Husband, if you've forgotten the reference, which I persist in using because I think he likes it) that parenting brings out insecurities in me like I couldn't have imagined. I am constantly second-guessing myself, especially where my babies' well-being is concerned (I was telling him this while we were driving around Hawaii in the pouring rain with nowhere to go while E screamed her head off in the back seat, and we had no idea how to help her). Do they need discipline right now or a hug? Am I being too strict? Too lenient? Is she screaming because she's tired, hungry, angry, scared, or all four? Is she tugging on her ear because she has an ear infection or because she's a goofy one year old? Does she scream that way during diaper changes because she has some sort of infection, or is she just being a punk? Does that cough warrant a trip to the doctor? When my three year old complains of stomach aches, is he just hungry, car sick, or does he gastrointestinal issues? These are just everyday worries from the last three days, not those of a fellow mom whose daughter is perched precariously on a ledge called "remission," in which every little rash or cough warrants a trip to the doctor. But I still worry about my precious charges, because I don't know.

To not know is human, to know is divine.

Of course, God created us in his image and we "know" by thinking God's thoughts after him. He made us to learn and discover the world that he made with just a thought. We know because he knew first, and eternity will be spent growing to know more of him and his creation. But we will never know like God. We will never know everything, and we will never even know enough to manage or control our world, not in the way a parent would like to, anyway. (Obviously this applies to everyone, but let's focus on parenthood for brevity, since that's what I know.)

What would it be like to know exactly what was wrong with a child, and to know perfectly how (and when) to fix it? I would be so much more relaxed as a parent. Calm in the face of their distress, confident in dealing with it. Always loving and gentle, even when I needed to be firm or to administer a painful remedy. Careful in dispensing medicine but determined that it do its job.

You surely see where I'm going here, that God is the perfect Father to us all, and this is how he deals with us?

But how does that impact my own imperfect parenting? Because God is their perfect Father, too. Even as I muddle through in all my not-knowing, He knows, and he will perfectly take care of us both.

I have a maker
He formed my heart
Before even time began
My life was in his hands

He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And he hears me when I call

Monday, January 20, 2014

An Imperfect Offering

We are out of town and so went to an unfamiliar church yesterday. It was a small church, in a community where it seems like all the churches are small (this one had under 30 adults in attendance, including several other visitors). Throughout the course of the service, I pieced together that the guy on the "percussion keyboard" was the pastor, the Worship Arts Pastor, on guitar and lead vocals, was primarily a high school teacher, and the guy running the soundboard had just gotten off the plane from New Zealand, but his substitute was still struggling enough that he jumped right back in. The music was rounded out by a husband and wife in their 50's or 60's; he played keyboard and had the best voice of the bunch, but the wife's voice was really weak, like maybe she was just recovering from bronchitis or she is really nervous in front of a crowd. There were some awkward solos in our 5 worship songs and a couple of obvious gaffes.

For some reason, though, I was really appreciative of their offering of their talents yesterday. I mean, here are four people who have stepped up despite the fact that they're not getting paid, and I'm pretty sure that they were aware of their inadequacies. But they served with joy and sometimes humor and always sincerity, worshipping their Lord and doing their best to lead others into worship, too.

I'm married to an artsy guy who does some worship leading of his own, so I understand and appreciate the call to excellence when serving the Lord, not only here but in every area of life. I myself appreciate the gift of well-rehearsed, professionally-trained musicians and the blessing that their ministry can be to the church. But what about the guy who hasn't touched a guitar in 5 years or sang publicly in even longer, but he's the only one with a semblance of musical capacity to lead music for your group. He's well-aware of his inadequacies and he wants to serve well as to not have his lack of practice be a distraction from worship, but he's got a several jobs, a toddler and a newborn, and the only time he can practice is after everyone's in bed, until the newborn wakes up and he has to relieve his wife so she can survive the day alone tomorrow? That happens to be my husband's story from last fall when he ended up doing music for our church's youth group.

Maybe that's why I appreciated our musicians yesterday. You know what? It takes a lot of humility to step up and serve musically when you know you're going to be missing notes with both your guitar and your voice. If I'm a terrible volunteer in the nursery, nobody but a few toddlers is going to notice; few places showcase our shortcomings like a stage with a microphone. But the call to serve ("If I don't do it, then nobody will") overcomes your pride. I can't help but wonder if those missed notes are some of the most beautiful in our Lord's ears.

Friday, December 20, 2013

When You Know What's Going to Happen...

We're in the middle if a major holiday road trip (2 days on the road to our destination), so the three year old gets pretty much unlimited access to movies and the iPad. He's in a phase where he's really sensitive to intense/scary things - even the opening credits of a Pixar film and parts of Builder Bob are "too scary" (no kidding!).

Nonetheless, we re-watched "Planes" in the car after first having watched it for his birthday two weeks ago. On that first occasion, there were many scenes during which I was required to sit next to or to hold on my lap a frightened little boy (only to be dismissed when the action let up - he did have two really cool friends by his side, after all). This time, he was in a car seat so I couldn't hold him (we just took off the headphones), but there were considerably fewer scary scenes that required momma's attention.

"It's a lot less scary when you know what's going to happen, isn't it, Tito?"

You know what? That's not just true of movies. If you live in the moment and that moment is as far ahead as you know with certainty, life is scary because the vast unknown future is truly fraught with scary things. The dark tunnel with the train rushing toward you, the storms, sinister competitors, sinking in the ocean (sorry, spoiler alert?). When you don't know the ending, every scary bit could be the end of the story for you. 

But every good story has plot twists that have you on the edge of your seat, feeling the tension and perhaps on the verge of despair (or in the pit of despair), before the plot resolves and we can breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy the "happily ever after."

We are part of the best (true) story ever written and the best part? We know the ending.

Monday, December 16, 2013

It Matters So Much

I just spent a huge portion of my last few days putting together photo books in order to reach an ordering discount deadline. Don't tell the grandmas, but that's part of what they're getting for Christmas, albeit late since the ordering deadline was for the discount and not delivery before Christmas (Hi, K & A - Merry Christmas!).

What memories contained therein from the last year! Laughter, some tears over spilled milk, poses with mom, poses with dad, holidays with grandparents, visits to my own grandma (90 in January). I spent these hours and these dollars on these books because, in a way, these memories are important. I want my kids to be able to see their childhood, to see the smiles on their faces and the love on their parents' faces. This is a visual narrative of who they are, the nuclear family being the most important early influence in their lives.

I also want to memorialize the grandparents and the great-grandparents because not only are these relatives part of their identity, these relatives are also special people, worth remembering in their own right. I have faint memories of my own great-grandmother, a feisty Englishwoman who married an injured American soldier who enlisted with the Canadian army because he could be part of the war effort earlier. I want my kids and grandparents to remember their own grandparents and great-grandparents.

Yesterday in church, Pastor Alfred used a sermon illustration of a woman who used to sit "right there" in church, and who made remarkable pickles. He correctly assumed that almost nobody would even know who she was, even though she hadn't been gone all that long. That's how fleeting our legacy on earth is. Even my own descendants several generations hence will maybe eventually know me as a name on a family tree, with maybe a note or two about something significant, a picture, or a preserved letter (or blog post!). That's it. The sum total of my life, my hopes and dreams, my joys and sorrows, my years of education, my years as a mom, ministry in church: a name etched in stone on a tombstone and maybe on the branch of a digital family tree.

And yet, we all want to be remembered, and we very nobly strive to preserve the memories of those whom we love. My husband's family did a remarkable job of that at a recent family reunion, even re-creating the Christmas gifts that Great-Grandma would send to her dozens of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren every year. Another generation and that memory will be gone. Another generation and her recipes (currently enshrined in a cookbook) will likely be gone, too. That's just the way it is.

The ancient Greeks believed that the only way to achieve immortality was to do something so significant that people would remember you. And so you had the creation of epic tales like the Iliad and the Odyssey, tales of Greek heroes who are immortalized through their deeds. In modern times, think of the recent death of Nelson Mandela; we mark the passing of this great leader by stories of his life in honor of, and as a means of, preserving his memory. If you do not believe in an eternity of which we are a part, this does seem like the best you can do.

I admit that I am so steeped in my Christian worldview, that I cannot wrap my head around the philosophical rationale of atheists who still believe that what you do right now matters. To me, the only explanation for this is that "eternity has been set in their hearts" (Ecc 3:11); that they somehow know that there is a judgment, that there are eternal consequences. Why else would we not eat, drink, and be merry? Why else does it matter how we treat our fellow man (or animals)? Why else do we want to be remembered after our deaths? We humans can't help but weep at our sorrows and (most of us) strive to be mostly good: that is eternity in your heart. But in the end, if this is all there is, it is a chasing after the wind. What you've done won't matter because you will be quickly forgotten, much more quickly than you would like to imagine.

The great news from our sermon yesterday is this: if you are in Christ, you have a God who knows your name and who will never forget your name.

It matters what you do now. It matters that you be remembered. "See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands."

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Happy and Holy

Have you ever heard the saying, "God is interested in your holiness, not your happiness?" I just realized that it's wrong.

Of course, people like John Piper and Jonathan Edwards and the writers of the Westminster Shorter Catechism (question 1, if you want a reference) are light years ahead of me in figuring this out, but there you have it. God IS interested in our happiness after all.

But here's the deal, we say this phrase as though happiness and holiness are diametrically opposed, and we say it in the same tone of voice that a dad uses when he tells his kids, "This family is not a democracy, it is a benevolent dictatorship." We, the kids in the divine family, are supposed to swallow the bitter pill of holiness at the expense of happiness because this is what The Great Benevolent Dictator has arbitrarily deemed best for his family.

But here's what I've been figuring out about God lately (again, pardon me if this seems a bit slow on the uptake; I have a stubborn heart that can render me slow of mind): God prescribes holiness for our happiness. It's a "both-and!"

Consider this: cars are made to run on gasoline. Hot chocolate is delicious, but it won't make a car go and will, in fact, damage the engine. We are made to thrive while operating within a particular set of "design specs" that happen to be revealed to us in the Bible. Too much hot chocolate in our engines can ruin us, too. A happy car is a gas-fed car.

The problem is that this sounds a lot more like "holiness" than "happiness" to our rebellious human ears that don't want to be told what to do, ever. I think that's why books keep being written on the subject, and some day I will have the time and self discipline to make it through "Desiring God," which I suppose is the definitive book on the subject for our generation.

In the meantime, I think I need to keep training myself and my children to delight in God's law, to see it as a revelation of his love and beauty and perfection (the same way that we all love to eat our broccoli; seriously, the kids love it). To pray for wisdom, "knowing and loving what is best." To have self-discipline to say "no" to short-term pleasures and to trust God that when he says he has greater pleasures in store for us, he means it. To believe that obedience isn't quenching happiness but is training our hearts to enjoy what will bring us the greatest, most lasting pleasure .. And a side benefit is that holiness helps us learn to enjoy the journey along the way. To revel in beauty and fun and laughter and make them a never-wavering part of my kids' lives.

God is happy because he is holy. "And we all, who with unveiled faces reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit" (2 Cor 3:18).

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Lean Into It

No doubt about it, being a parent of small children changes the way you experience the world, and it's not always obviously for the better. From the minute that baby comes out, you are a slave to its needs. Once you survive beyond that initial, exhausting phase, you are still tightly constrained by naps, eating needs, schlepping a mountain of paraphernalia wherever you go, and early bedtimes. Ignore these at your own peril.

This past Thanksgiving, we enjoyed small, stolen bites of a cold meal while managing cranky kiddos who weren't eating their meals for entirely different reasons. My glass of wine remained on the table almost entirely untouched, a tribute to the days (past and future) when a satisfying meal would be followed by an afternoon of lounging on a couch with pants unbuttoned, another glass of wine in hand, dozing in between stolen bites of leftover mashed potatoes and blueberry pie.

On Friday after the parade, the childless cousins traipsed off to the mall while the rest of us lugged overly-tired, whiny, sticky children home for long-overdue naps.

Sometimes it's a little hard not to wistfully long for the freedom of days gone by. "No, I can't stay up and watch that movie with you because with the time-change, my toddler is waking up at 4:45 and not going back to sleep." If they put this on the front of the "parenthood club" brochure, I suspect membership would be pretty limited or at least a bit more reluctant.

Through it all this weekend, I kept having this phrase running through my mind: "lean into it."

Have you ever been on top of a mountain, with wind whipping around your body, pushing you away from that peak, but you lean into the wind, holding your body steady in order to enjoy the exhilarating view? (If you haven't, come to Montana and I will point you in the directions of the mountains. it will be good for your soul.) Lean into it. Hold steady. Enjoy the view.

Because, when I don't let my ungrateful heart get ahead of my slowly-sanctifiying-mommy-self, I love the view from up here. The delight in the children's eyes at the parade. The exhausted girl who snuggles in uncharacteristically close while she awaits her nap. The happy dull roar of a home filled with young lives who are exploring their world and building relationships.

This is a phase, a preciously short time that we don't need to be guilted into "enjoying every moment," but maybe we do need to be reminded that when we feel buffeted, the best way to survive is to lean into it. This is who you are right now. This is your life, it is a gift and it is a challenge; it is a blessing and it can certainly feel like a curse. You can get tossed around like a ship at sea, you can hunker into a little ball, or you can plant your feet, face the winds that aren't going away anyway, and do what you can to hold steady. Sometimes the wind on a mountaintop sucks the breath right out of your lungs, not unlike the tightening in my chest when both kids join a chorus of other screaming children or the little one cries for an hour straight on a road trip.

This is life as I currently know it. It is beautiful. It is breathtaking. It feels like I am being sucked completely dry. So I try to remind myself: lean into it. Hold steady. Enjoy the view.

Friday, November 08, 2013

All the Secrets of the Universe...

...in two hours of parenting.

(Okay, maybe this title is a little bit of an exaggeration, but at least I didn't call it -- as I was tempted to -- "All the Secrets of the Universe and of the Bible.")

Tito, I love you, that is why:
... Sometimes I let you play games on my phone, and sometimes I make you turn it off.

... Sometimes I let you enjoy sweet treats, and sometimes I ask you to enjoy eating your vegetables.

... Sometimes I let you have a special treat by staying up late, and sometimes I put you to bed early.

... We enjoy bath time together, but part of bath time is washing your hair.

... Sometimes I send you to your room (or more) for disobeying, and sometimes I just hold you close and give you a hug.

... Sometimes I carefully explain things to you, and sometimes I just ask you to trust me and to obey even when you don't understand.
Sometimes your life is fun and easy and sometimes it is feels hard and burdensome and sometimes you like me a lot and sometimes you wonder if I love you. But the truth is, I always love you, and I do what I do (in my finite capacity) all out of love for you.