Monday, March 19, 2012

I Can, I Must, I Will

We are in the thick of Dance competition season which means that Angel Daughter Number Four is spending weekend after weekend doing exactly what she lives to do.  This child was born with a dancer's soul.  Whenever she preforms a piece, she not only goes through the movements, but she interprets them with her entire body.  She tells a story without words.  She is quite small in stature, like me.  We each stand all of four feet ten inches in height and she often makes me stand back to back to "prove" to me that she has suddenly grown taller than me.(the others girls passed me up a long time ago)  When she does this, Mark tells her that she may someday grow taller than her momma in stature but that she will never grow larger in heart.  This is a very sweet sentiment but I think that she already might have and when she dances, the size of her heart just emanates from her body.  It is difficult not to be captivated by her.
This year, the team put together a Hip-Hop piece which is dynamic, inspiring and tear-inducing.  All of the girls on the team seem to be able to relate to this piece on a level that makes it even more awe-inspiring because the underlying message in the music and in the movements is that "I Can".  The girls come out with their sweatshirts zipped up while the voice-over talks about how no matter what anyone ever tells you, you can make your dreams come true.  You can overcome adversity.  You can succeed in spite of any difficulty.  It is a message that we all need to hear on some level but most especially, the teenagers and young adults who are growing up today.  Suddenly, the beat of the music changes, the girls unzip their jackets and their tee-shirts reveal the words, "I CAN", "I WILL", and, "I MUST".
People at Dance competitions tend to get distracted after spending hour upon hour in a loud, bright, over-stimulating arena, but I have noticed that during this routine, people pay attention.  AD4's wonderful coach is so great at putting together routines that demand attention and this one is no exception.  People from other teams stop our girls on their way off the stage to tell them how beautiful this routine truly is.
It has a wonderful affect.

That is AD4 on the left with her cheek on the floor!  The Jewish momma in me wants to run up on to the stage just before our girls go on with a bottle of Windex and a dust rag.  What could it hurt?

AD4 told me that this is the only point during the dance that she can actually stop to breathe.  She said that on Saturday, she made eye-contact with one of the judges at this particular moment, and it made them both smile.  It is difficult to make the judges smile.  Great job, AD4!

At the end of the routine, all of the girls turn around to reveal that their tee-shirts spell out "JUST BELIEVE".  AD4 is in the middle but her hoodie was kind of covering the "L" on her shirt at the moment when I took this photo.

It is very hard for this child to keep her feet on the ground!  Her excitement and enthusiasm for life is absolutely contagious!
One of her best friends came to watch her for the first time and loved it.  It is so sweet how they support and encourage one another.  I am glad that my girls have good friends who love them and who they love.
Angel Daughter Number One drove down from Los Angeles to have dinner with us and to watch her little sister compete.  She is also doing really well.  Mark is such a great daddy.  He never misses a competition that is within driving distance.  There are times when I am unable to go because of my health but Mark is always there to represent.  He went up for both days of competition last weekend.  I know that all of the girls appreciate their daddy's support.  I married a great man.

Angel Daughter Number Three got off of work at 7:00 but rushed over to the Anaheim Convention Center to support her little sister.  She got there in time with only one routine to spare!  She wanted to show off how much taller she is than I am.  Of course, she was wearing very high heels and I don't anymore, but I guess that she wins either way!

You might have noticed that one of my Angel Daughters was missing from the photos.  That is because she is in Palm Springs for Fashion Week.  Here is a picture of AD2 standing in front of an enormous blow-up of her latest photo spread.  It is a picture of the Project Runway Allstars and it is being featured nationwide right now!  She said that she walked into the Project Runway reception room only to be surprised by this life-size replica of her work.  So fantastic!  I borrowed this picture from her Facebook so it is very blurry but you get the idea.  I am just so happy for her.

My girls are all working on following their dreams which makes me a very content momma.  As long as I know that they are all healthy, safe, happy and productive, I can rest better at night.  Tomorrow is not only the first day of spring, but it is also AD3's 20th birthday.  Happy Birthday, Angel Daughter Number Three!  It is difficult for me to believe that I will only have one teenager for the first time in many, many years.  There was actually a time period when I had four teenage daughters at once.  I was not quite sure I would make it past that time period unscathed, but I did.  We did.  And as quickly as life moves, I like where we are now and I am also looking forward to where we will someday be.  It's all good:)

*Opps!  I just realized that I wrote that it was AD4's birthday today, when it is AD3's birthday!  Sometimes I have trouble getting it all right!  It's like when one of them is in trouble and I start calling them all by the wrong name until I get to the correct one.  Oy!  Happy Birthday AD3!  I love you!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


 There are times when I choose to envision God as my Rock.  Solid and strong, steady and unyielding, tenacious enough to support me in even my most weakened moments.  Sometimes, when the tide is out far enough, enormous boulders appear grounded securely beneath the ocean's sinewy surface.  I have observed them so many times that I can see them in my mind's eye by shape and color, location and texture.  I know that they are always there even when they are covered in a mingling of water and salt, seaweed and sand.  I know that they are there even when I cannot see them for they have been there each and every time that I have witnessed the receding of the ocean to a place in which the typically covered sea floor becomes exposed and what lies beneath is uncovered for a few precious hours.  Sometimes, after storms, the tides seem to be drawn out even farther exposing the constant rock formations which are always there whether I choose to believe that they are or not.  It is not up to me to declare that these formations are there for them to be there.  They are there.  And in their presence, I can either pretend to believe that they do not exist when I cannot see them, or, I can simply acknowledge that which I am temporarily unable to see.  In one way, I am viewing the universe by only that which I can see in front of me.  In another, I am trusting that even that which I cannot see still remains.  Have I ever seen God in the way that I can see the rocks that are only sometimes exposed beneath the receding tides.  My simple answer is yes.  I have seen God in my husband's eyes on the night that we first met as his soul was momentarily exposed as someone who would soon after become my rock for life.  I have seen God in my daughter's faces as they were laid upon my chest only moments after their births, souls still as familiar with God's voice as they were with the sound of mine.  I have seen God in my brother's peaceful, almost serene looking face soon after his soul had been released from his earthly body only to head back to from where it came.  I have seen God.  And this is why I choose to envision God as my Rock.  He is there whether I decide that He is or He is not.  He is there whether I can see Him or I cannot.  Just as the rocks which remain steadfast upon the ocean floor whether covered or exposed, God is always there and He anchors me in times of deep sorrow.

This past Saturday, our congregation lost our beloved rabbi to cancer.  He was the rabbi for our congregation for the past nearly thirty years.  He was our family's rabbi for well over twenty-plus years.  He was there when our daughters were born.  He was there as our daughters went through Hebrew school.  He was there when Mark converted to Judaism enjoying some very lively debates with my somewhat conservative husband but treating him like a new found son.  He was there when Mark and I renewed our vows for our fifteenth anniversary.  He was there to Bat-Mitzvah our girls and when I felt called to volunteer as a Spiritual Care Counselor at our local hospital, I felt a sense of pride from him as he talked to me about our patients.  And today, Mark, myself, and our four Angel Daughters were there with the rest of our congregation to wish his soul a remarkable journey and to thank God for having lent him to us for as long as he did even though it did not seem nearly long enough.  I envisioned him officiating at the girl's weddings someday...
These photos are two that I was quickly able to dig out this afternoon after returning home from the funeral.  They were taken almost twelve years ago at Angel Daughter Number One's Bat-Mitzvah when she was just thirteen years old.(And yes, all of the Bat and Bar Mitzvah students were just a little bit frightened of rabbi.  Well, maybe a lot frightened.)  A couple of years ago, Rabbi and I became "Facebook friends" and each time I would post something about one of my daughters accomplishments he would be one of the first people to "like" it.  He would often leave me notes of praise about my girls and I could always tell that he was "kvelling" about their talents and achievements.  The last time I saw him, we were standing outside of the synagogue talking briefly after the High Holy day services in October.  He was frail and quite pale and much softer-spoken than he had been in the past.  But he could not let me go without telling me how much he enjoyed our exchanges on Facebook and how much he loved being able to keep up with the girls through my posts.  My two oldest daughters went on to "friend" him after that, and they too, began to receive "likes" from our rabbi.  He was the proud "father" of hundreds of people.  Thank you, dearest Sherri, Steven and Gavriella for sharing him so generously with all of us.  It could not have always been easy but you all did so with such grace and benevolence.

As I immerse myself in the deep sadness of our rabbi's death, I will cling to my Rock knowing that rabbi is no longer suffering, no longer in pain and is now in the company of God and the angels who he spent so much of his life teaching about and trusting in.  Rabbi Krause always knew that God was there, but now, he knows that God is there and that is something that I pray his family can take some comfort in as they do their very best to soldier on without him here.

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