Friday, August 18, 2006

25 Years, 25 Thank yous

25 years...25 reasons I love him! It's 2:40am and I can't sleep. He's at work,hopefully sleeping but ready to save a life, a house or maybe just help someone back to bed. We are preparing for a trip we dreamed of long ago. Its not the destination we have looked so forward to, as much as the milestone. Our 25th wedding anniversary. The silver anniversary, the one that matches his hair. I am not concerned with packing our bags, but as I lay awake and alone in the dark, I am overwhelmed with all that he has packed into our lives and my heart over this quarter century. I married him because I thought he was cute and he melted my defenses with his guitar and tender voice. He made me laugh and was the first guy I had to ask to kiss me on our first date. Who knew that kiss in the yellow light of my grandmother's porch would lead to this. I had no idea anyone could love as truly and deeply as he has, and he chose me to prove it was possible. So as limiting as it is...25 thank yous for 25 years. Thank you... for trying so diligently to understand women, knowing all the while you never will.......for waking me every morning with a kiss on the cheek and knowing you will have to come back in "5 more minutes "....... for the cup of coffee waiting on the bathroom counter when I step out of the shower barely able to open my eyes...... for the crackers and soda during our 3 seasons of morning sickness, instead of the coffee....... for the way you peak around the corner to spy me in the family room and your face beams when you come home from work in morning, even though I'm not scrubbed clean and still wear the sleepiness of the night...... for the look on your face when you held our babies, not just the first time, but everytime......for the look you wear even now, when you are hugging them, though they sometimes tower over you...... for the way you look at your grandson when you are holding him, but more for the way you look at our daughter when she holds her tiny son........for never rushing out the door, but always leaving with a kiss and reminding me who I am to you......for learning early on never to ask about PMS, just to know or pretend not to notice.......for letting us all laugh with you while we are laughing at you and sacrificing with some humility for the sake of a sacred family joke.....for letting us bring it up again and again and again just so we can laugh some more.......for making me feel missed by picking me up at the airport dressed in a tuxedo like I was a VIP, having already convinced me, I am to you.......for the twinkle in your eye when I beg you not to go to work today, but to just stay home with us.......for working one of the most ego building jobs in the world yet never letting us think there is anywhere more rewarding or exciting to you than home........for helping me put my pajamas on and tuck me into bed as if I am a child unable to do it for myself, just because I feel like one that day..........for coaching our boys through little league with encouragment and not intimidation.......for showing our daughter what to expect in a Godly man and what it means to really be a princess.......for showing our sons that a real man pursues excellance in the home more than any office ......... for always having a black turtleneck in the closet and wearing it just one time too many but pretending like it is brand new, and the first time we've seen it........ for being tough enough to talk things out, committed enough to work it out and humble enough to seek wise counsel for us when we were stuck......for giving up boyhood dreams for the bigger dreams you had for your family....... for the spiritual path you led me down and now we walk hand in hand........for all the times I say "remember..." and you are the only one in the world who can say yes........ for the way you pull me close and tilt your head towards me when someone wants to take a picture of us......for the fears and tears we've shared through open heart surgery and two biopsies, and all the sweetness of the things we let each other say, "just in case".........for listening to me talk in my sleep instead of waking me up, because you know how I hate to be interrupted when I am talking ........for knowing what secret phrases mean like "bebime sack, I be wite bak, steamroller baby, hockogs, my night, o's and waywees" and many more...but mostly for giving me a life I can call a fairy tale and a heart so grateful it couldn't even sleep tonight..........Thank you

My child, in whom I am well pleased!

Mark 1:11 "And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased." ..........Oh, had I not been so sleepy I would have said it. Instead, I smiled to myself and felt my heart melt and then fill up to overflowing at the same time. "Thank you Lord. What a gift you are to me. How close you have kept your hand on my life and disciplined me when I needed it. I have tried so hard to parent as you would. Oh, that they would see your heart in us and embrace your will for them!"
All of this happened a couple of nights ago when one of our children came in to our room, long after we had buried our faces deep into the pillow to sleep off the day's heat. Standing at the side of the bed we heard a statement any parent would long to hear. "Thank you". That got our attention. Even if our eyes were only half open, our ears were now surely and completely awake. "I don't know if you will remember this in the morning, but I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for putting up with some of the things I do and not putting up with other things I do. Thank you for saying yes to me about some things I ask and saying no to other things I think I want to do. I have seen other families and some of their problems and I just wanted to say thanks."
Oh, I wish I had been fully awake to jump up and hug and kiss and hug some more. To say you're welcome and I love you and I am so proud of you. To confirm to this precious one that living within God's boundaries is where His infinite blessing is. That the enemy makes stepping outside look so appealing but that true wisdom is looking beyond the momentary temptation and excitement to the very real consequences of pain and regret. To say that to accept His limits now lays a foundation of peace and true freedom................ Instead we mumbled something I hardly remember and that was that....But sleep didn't come either. Suddenly many of the times I chose "no" with my children even with the fear of upsetting them, came ticking through my thoughts. I mean the times I felt so anxious, wondering if this was the one final "no" that would end our loving relationship and we would settle for being barely parent and child. Ruler and resigned follower. Master and subject. That chasm that lands between a parent trying to be a parent rather than a friend, and a child that thinks he wants to live with some "cooler" family because there aren't as many rules. Trying so hard to guide and lead them and let out the rope some, without letting go completely until the proper time. Some days it feels like the rope is pulled taught in a battle of strength.
But then there are days like this, when the child is caught holding the rope of their family by choice and conviction. Perhaps because they believe in the values enough to tie the rope around their waist for a bit with a double knot, just to have that sense of security and family. In the days ahead, if all goes right they will begin to pull their rope free of our hands and we serve them well to let go. They will stand for a time holding both ends of the rope. If they spend too much time like that, they will likely do a lot of tripping over the lack of an anchored end. "Please Lord, that they would anchor that free end of the rope to you and to your word. That they would see the freedom you offer and the anchor that keeps us from drowning when we do stumble and fall in." How many times can I remember feeling swept under and realizing that gripping the rope anchored to my savior was my only rescue. Knowing that the hands that hand-over-hand, close the gap between us, are His, not mine. He is the only one with the strength. How many times will he rescue me? All of them. Of course, when he has reeled me back in, there will be the discipline. I wouldn't want it to be painless or I'd be bound to repeating that same jump again. Deuteronomy 8:5 says "You learned deep in your heart that God disciplines you in the same ways a father disciplines his child. ".....And how much more our Father in heaven loves us than we are even capable of loving our own children. But how sweet it is that because we are his, we can sense his speaking over us "I am well pleased".......That the I AM is well pleased. So on this particular sleepy night, I am grateful for my own loving heavenly father and the limits and discipline he has wisely loved me with. If even occasionally, my own children feel the same, "Bless them Lord and be pleased."

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Deep Cleaning

A friend came to town the other day. She comes every year about this time. Her get away I guess. A time to take a break from her mothering and wifing and have a few days to relax and catch up with friends. I have known her for about 22 years I think. She lived here and then moved out of state. Though she doesn't stay with me, I heard she was in town and I looked forward to seeing her. As I sat doing my Bible Study early one morning, I was reflecting back on our friendship and the Lord reminded me of one gracious moment with her many years ago. I had helped her with a project that was very personal to her and then recklessly and without any sensitivity, I shared it with others. Not gossiping, not sharing a secret, but sharing some photography that was from a very tender and private moment in her family's life. I was proud of my work and wanted to share it with others. Pride. I had no idea it would feel like such a betrayal to her and yet it did feel exactly that. I don't know how long she thought about how to handle it or how much time she spent praying about it. I do know my sweet friend didn't even approach me until she and God had worked through the pain, betrayal and he lead her all the way to forgiving me. She had nearly every right to come to me angry and hurt and tell me a thing or two about friendship and confidentiality and ask me to apologize and then still be hurt. The one right that held her back, was the one God himself reserves when he asks us to wait. She loves Him so! Her obediance and heart for Him has always been such a testimony to me. When she finally did come to me, she gently told me I had hurt her and explained how. She didn't wait for an apology, didn't even give me the chance before she told me she had forgiven me. Often, I say I am sorry in order to be forgiven, but in this case, she forgave without any guarantee she'd get the apology or even a need for it. I do remember apologizing, though feeling defensive inside. Oh that was a period of time when I wanted to be right more than I wanted to be honest. So the issue was layed to rest and sometime later she moved away. I don't believe I have spent one minute thinking about that encounter until this recent early morning prompting. As I thought about her kindness and humility and forgiveness I was overwhelmed with gratitude. How it must have hurt her to wait so long to talk to me and then get a half-hearted apology. So I sat down and wrote her a note, thanking her for being so gracious to me 20-something years ago. Telling her I wasn't feeling too genuine back then, but my heart feels so grateful for her now..... Hmmm. Forgiveness. God's kind. That's what I saw in her. A God that forgives because He can and because He wants to. No need to punish in order to forgive. No need to demand an apology. No need for compensation. The dictionary defines "forgive" as to excuse for a fault or an offense; pardon; to renounce anger or resentment against, to absolve from payment of (a debt, for example). All of that I received from her without a thing from me. Simply grace. Betrayal for her but pardon for me. I wish it hadn't taken me so long to see it and be able to express my gratitude to her. She has studied under the Master longer than I and saw His hand even in this moment calling it "a deep cleaning". I am sure God smiled with pride and approval when she came to me back then and I am sure he chuckled and nodded when the realization finally fell on me. I hope this deep cleaning felt as sweet to her as it does to me. I pray that when faced with the opportunity, I will glance back over my shoulder at my friend's forgiveness just as she glanced back over hers to the cross. Grace. Grace and a wonderful "deep cleaning".

Monday, August 14, 2006

The "what if..." answer


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

What if...

The phone rang, probably for the hundredth time that day and another hundred calls have come in since. But this call was different. After hanging up I was left with a big "what if...". You know those weird rare calls that make you stop short a minute and think and think, attempt to shake it off and then think some more. The kind of information that isn't reliable in any one direction or another. Not facts, but possibilities: not even probabilities but enough to occupy the "What if..." imagination. This kind of caller never gives too many details or absolutes, so you are left protecting your hopes...trying to maintain them right where they were, not letting them rise and not letting them fall. I found myself anxiously telling my insides..."Every emotion just stop a minute. I don't know anything yet. Every thought and feeling in my head right now, "just lock in and don't move" we need to wait to respond." Most of the responders obeyed. The stubborn one is the imagination . Defiant is more like it. As much as I try to control that part, its no use. Trying to control the imagination and keep it rational is like calling a toddler who has just learned to run. You are trying so hard to kindly call to them and get them to stop and come back to you, usually in some huge expanse like the grocery store or the mall. And like that baby with the flinstone feet and a squeal of delight, the imagination wants to stay just out of reach; staying free to run with the next whim.
So that is who has been working overtime in my brain. The imagination. Every other part is behaving for now.
"What if..." It doesn't take long for a "What if..." to become an "if, then". You know... If this is so, then what will we do differently? What has to change? What can stay the same? What will be better, what may get harder? Who will take charge of that and this while I'm busy? Who is willing and available to take some of the shifting around of responsibility this may cause? Does this "What if" question have a hotline I can call? "Hello, yes I'm needing a little advice. um hm , Well, it was one of those 'what if' calls . Yes, exactly. No we don't know anything more, which is why I am calling. What can I do during the 'what if ' stage? No, the feelings and thoughts are locked in to normal for now, it's just the imagination...Oh, really...normal huh, ok. Anything I can take for it? Over the counter or otherwise? No, huh. Any idea how long it will last? Oh, well of course, until the next call, right. The call with more information or confirmation. Ok then, thanks" No help there. Except to be deemed normal that the imagination is working overtime in a "What if" of this kind.

So for just a minute then..."imagination, go ahead" "If so, then what?" How would I do? What would I do? Who would I tell? How would I tell them? Will they cry when I tell them? Will I cry when I tell them or be strong to give them the confidence I am hoping I would have? Would I continue to work? Would I change everything or try to carry on pretending everything is normal? Will there be a new normal? Will the new normal be permanent or temporary? Will the new normal be better in quality, focusing only the most important things of all? hmm. There it is. The truth about what has crossed my mind. If "what if" became so, and in the extreme possibility it meant days were numbered...what would I do about the number left?

Amazingly I can't stop smiling about the possibility of such freedom. I mean I would do some things very differently. I would fearlessly move to taking every opportunity to tell anyone who would listen the most important things I have learned. I would tell a listening ear about all the time I wasted worrying about what so-and-so thinks about me. I would tell them there is only One whose nod of approval is worth thinking about. I would speak as if testifying as a witness in court to the truth of what I have experienced with my God, my savior. With my hand on the Bible, I would tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. That it took me too long to realize it, but I have found that He is more than enough to live for and He thinks we are more than enough to die for. I would raise my hands more to praise Him and fall to my knees more to worship him. I would let people think I am crazy because I am talking out loud again or still, to a God they cannot see, but has become visible to me in most everything. I want just one chance on a mountain with everyone paying attention to say that He is so faithful, so loving and so worth whatever it costs to follow Him. That the joy on this earth is to get even a glimpse of His heart and have a chance to be His hands and feet for someone else. Oh, the freedom of it. The freedom of thinking my days might be numbered. It seems like life would be so much easier, more honest, a more authentic way to really live this part before eternity.

And so I keep smiling. Smiling at the possibility of such freedom. "Silly girl. You're days are numbered!" Maybe there will be less than I was planning, maybe more. The next phone call will help determine. Can I make the decision to be free to praise, worship, love and serve Him regardless? I pray so. I wait for no other reward than to hear the "Well done, good and faithful..." when the last day ends and the real living begins.....The imagination. The part I've been trying to get to just sit down and be patient. Not such a terrible distraction after all. "What if..." I think it'll be just fine; and that's the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord!

This is a gift. Let's be honest. My husband will be bald someday and I need know if I could actually love the bald in my guy. When the drain starting collecting gray curls a few years ago I realized it was coming. I thought it would be sooner rather than later...but things have slowed down a bit in the "fall out", so perhaps a merciful God has decided to make it later ratherthan sooner. I was preparing though. Trying to picture him without hair. Trying to imagine it. Feeling his head and all the bumps and ridges underneath his grey and wondering what that would look like. Trying to gauge whether the best idea might really be if my eyesight regressed with his hairline. I have considered wearing a baseball cap so that if I held my head just right, the bill of the cap would block the top of his head, but I could still see his handsome face. Or perhaps he should wear the cap. I know I can love the husband part, just don't know if I can love the bald part. ..................A bald guy moved in recently. Into our home. He too, wasn't completly bald when I met him. Thinning I would say, not completely bald at first. But weeks later, he really is. And you know, my feelings for him have actually grown as his hair has disappeared. I think it's partly the bald that makes him so lovable. Its the part I want to touch, the smoothness that I wrap my hand around and the last thing I kiss when he's tucked into bed. He is most beautiful when his bald is exposed, not hidden under a hat or blanket. When he is wrapped up tight, I want to unwrap him. His beanies don't fit him thank goodness, or I would be caught peeking under them to see the bald....................I miss the bald heads of my own three. It represented newness and innocence and a future. The teenage head shaving baldness isn't the same and I didn't like that at all. No, it has to be natural..........I suspect this little bald guy has paved the way for the old bald guy to come. If things go just right, there will be a few days when they are both bald together and then the younger whose hair begins to show will hand the baton to his grandpa whose bald is doing the same. Having boldly displayed his tiny bald head with confidence and a lack of self consciousness, he will have mentored his grandpa well.........So, be assured grandpa. This old grandma loves bald. If you could add a coo and smile at me, like the little one does, when I rub that bald head of yours, we'll be just fine.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Bob. "I'm just like that"

I didn't even know dust could accumulate on vertical glass. I mean I am well aware of the dust that lands for a week or so on the horizontal furniture and the tops of picture frames. I even know the permanent dust that lives on top of the entertainment center, visible only from the stairs. But who knew dust sticks to a sliding glass door? I noticed it just the other day, on the outside. What got my attention actually, were the places on the glass where the dust had been brushed away. Very specific patterns, kind of like someone had taken a feather and painted or unpainted the dust in whispy designs. I hadn't seen it before and par for my course, I was curious. I stood examining the glass like a crime scene investigator. What on earth would create such marks and when? Who on earth would care? Me.

A more balanced person would have gone back inside to continue with some profitable task, like laundry. But not me, I just needed to know. I'm just like that. No one in my family would have expected me to come inside until I had it figured out. They know me too well. So there I stood, one arm crossing my front and supporting the other elbow, which propped up the forearm to the hand that props the chin and the finger that taps the side of my mouth while I think. This is the preferable thinking position at my age. (After 40, its best to avoid the furrowed brow position, as that one tends to stick in a permanent forrow called wrinkles). The longer I stood there, searching the position and pattern of the dust designs the more curious I got. If they were in just one horizontal plane or another, that would help. I have family in the 5'6" , 6' and 6'4" planes, so that could have narrowed down the who anyway. But these marks were all over the full width and height of glass. Like something had purposely decorated every quadrant and corner of it, with a ........ feather.... Ah ha! That's it! Bob. It's got to be Bob, the bird.

We met Bob last spring. Well, I guess we came to know Bob. I don't think he ever actually got to know us, but we were very familiar with him. He came into our lives with a bang! Literally, a bang, as he hit the large sliding glass door that faces the backyard. The first time he did it we thought he accidently flew into the glass. Bang! It didn't sound like he slowed down at all and infact when he fell to the patio floor, I thought we might just have to do a little bird CPR. My paramedic husband would have cried "fowl" I'm sure. I felt embarrassed for him and wanted to act like I didn't notice his foolishness, so he could just get up and fly on. I figured he was just swooping and gliding and climbing and diving all over the back yard. Dodging tree limbs and the swing, rounding bushes and weaving in and out of each of the patio posts and probably just closed his eyes in the bliss of it...I mean I would have closed my eyes just to intensify the feel of all that swooping and gliding. So then, with his eyes closed... BANG! And I tried to let him get up and on without being humiliated. But then it started. The mystery of Bob. He just got up again and jumped against the glass. And jumped against the glass. And continued flying up and against the glass, to the left against the glass, to the right against the glass, down, up, up higher, down again, hitting his wings and head and the rest of him over and over again. I think he carried on until he was exhausted. There was a purposefulness to it. His whole heart was in it. We sat and watched. Ok, mostly I sat and watched. But I just needed to understand why he might be doing that, risking his bird body and the humiliation. I'm just like that. So began my finger tapping. Tap, tap, tap. Bang! Bang! Bang! This went on all spring and summer. Him banging and me tapping.
What was he trying to get at? What did he think he was seeing? I don't think it was his own reflection, or he would have just bumped into the glass right where he would stand. No, he was seeing something beyond the glass he thought was worth all the trouble and headache (literally). Directly inside the window was our oak table and chairs. Perhaps with all the wood legs he was seeing a forest or trees. Just beyond that on some shelves was a wood birdhouse I purchased at a craft fair. Was he shopping for a new place in the country? I moved the birdhouse out of view just in case. No change. I kind of wanted to open the door and let him in, just to see where he would go, what he was so set on. But inside the house is not the place for a bird. Flying and ceilings and walls just don't go together. It's the complete opposite of freedom for a bird. We know. We've had a few accidently fly inside. I just wanted to sweetly say, "Bob, just turn around and look at the whole beautiful "perfect-for-a-bird" world that is behind you. Unlimited sky, millions of trees to stop on and the rest of the bird choir to sing with. Your world is perfect for you, just turn around and see it!" So that's how the spring and summer went. Bob did lots of bumping and I did lots of thoughtful tapping. So it's spring again this year and just about the time we starting wondering about Bob, he showed up. But not alone. He brought a friend. A girl I'm sure. So at least we know who's been warming Bob's nest over the winter months. The two of them stood together in front of the glass door and Bob spent one day flying and bumping into the glass again. Interestingly, his friend didn't join in. I sat nearby watching and smiling at his efforts to impress her. He tried every angle again, high, low, left, right and then they were gone. Perhaps, he finally turned around. Maybe he just needed a friend to speak some truth to him. Maybe he spent the winter telling her about this great place he found last spring. Around the bird nest, over dinner, he would tell her about it, how he found it, what it looked like and his plans to return again and finally get inside. Maybe she encouraged him, or maybe she cautioned him. He probably promised to take her there when the time and weather was right. Maybe it sounded too good to be true or a little fishy, that something that appeared so wonderful, was impossible to get to. Maybe she knew what he didn't. Bird territory is free and open, without boundaries and with few predators. Maybe she knew God gives birds everything they need and want without banging their heads against a wall. Maybe she knew that he was the type that would more likely pursue the thing just out of reach, rather than turn around to see all that was wonderful in his world. Maybe I thought so much about Bob, because I related to his struggle. Maybe I have spent way too much time banging my head against a glass door, because I thougt I saw something on the otherside I wanted. Maybe I remember trying this angle and that, and until I was bloody with the battle in wanting something God has said no to. Maybe what Bob and I think would be preferable, God knows would be captivity. Maybe Bob and I both have needed to bring a loved one along to tell us what we are really looking at, rather than what we have been seeing. Maybe we both just need to turn around and look to the freedom in God's "No" and thank him for knowing what's best even when it's disappointing or painful. Maybe, God knows Bob would fly and bump and bang, and I'd watch and tap and think. I can't help it, I'm just like that.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Another good reason...

Why blogging? Why not a paper journal? Why not write somewhere other than the internet? Like a publishing program or something of the sort? Why blog? The answer came to me yesterday. We were sitting in the stands at the varsity baseball field. Our team hasn't won a lot of games and my son is a pitcher, so he doesn't even play in very many games. At the end of the season, the fans are a faithful few. Since my pitcher was sitting the bench this game, I naturally use my time in the stands to socialize with his friends more than usual. I love to listen to them talk amongst themselves and delight when I actually understand some of what they are talking about. Teenage life isn't really that different from my day, but the language is. I don't know if they really appreciate this or not, but I am genuinely interested in what they are talking about. I have gone to great lengths to learn about their stuff. I know about MySpace and Ipods. I have Von Zipper sunglasses (hand me downs from my daughter) and can sing the clean parts of not just a few rap songs. I have Usher on my ipod, I don't own any, but I know that 7's jeans are the most comfortable and most expensive. I know that the best part of prom is planning, primping and pictures. I know which parents are very strict and which ones I would like send to parenting classes. Yesterday in the stands...... it was all girls. I just love them. I love it that they will talk their girl talk even though I am near by. They are "girlfriends", you can tell by the way they talk. I love to watch them taking silly pictures of themselves with their camera phones, and when they let me take the picture so they can all be in it. I love it when they let me in on the conversation and I remember not to talk about when I was their age. I love them almost like they are my own, but grateful I can love them and avoid the worry part, (ok, try to avoid the worry part). ------ Yesterday I heard someone say "Blog". Ok, I know about blogging, so if they will allow me, I can join in to their world for just a minute. "Do you have a blog?" Me, too! "What is your address? blah, blah, blah" (blah, blah, blah is teenager for we had more to say, but I don't feel like repeating it word for word) ------ I didn't know the best reason to have a blog, until yesterday while we were sitting at the high school baseball game, and it came to me...Someone asked if I was Ryan's mom, (clarifying my age I think) and I said "yes". Then she said it...words that are coveted at my age. "You are really HIP!" Ahhhh! It took my breath away. Let the word sink in..Hip. Hip. "You're really Hip" In a few more years my conversation about "hip" will probably be in with a doctor as we discuss how long it will take the break to heal. But for now, "hip" means "hip". At least I was hoping so.... In one instant, I received the comment like a blessing spoken over me. Then a slight fear settled in. This adorable young girl was only about 16, so perhaps her "hip" wasn't really my "hip". Shoot, do I really want to know? I mean I could live on this for a VERY long time. Ultimately, my desire for truth won out. I'm sure I kind of winced when I asked "Why do you think so?" , then braced myself. "You have cool VonZipper sunglasses (thanks daughter) have a MySpace, and you BLOG!" Well, I don't have a MySpace; misunderstanding...but I do know what it is! "Hip!" That's me! At least for that moment. Another great reason to have a blog! Thanks to those girlfriends. See you next season.

Friday, May 05, 2006

One sensitive daughter

in reference to yesterdays blog...So today was the first day without the oldest coming down the stairs. But my daughter, whose heart which is quickly becoming a mother's heart, started down those stairs this morning, stopped half way, ran back up and then proceeded to mimic the gallop of the oldest. Just to comfort me...she said "just wanted to start your day out right!" ahhhh the love of a child. Can't beat the tenderness.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

G...o...d...He's doing it again!

I want to whine like a four year old. I just do. That's how I feel. I have a sing song in my head. "G...o....d (two syllables) , he's doing it again" . I feel the need to tattle on my oldest son. You see he is moving out again, probably for the last time and taking a piece of my heart with him. Today it feels like the most tender piece. Last week he bought three suits, a new car and rented a house. Uh oh, I see it coming.... again! Now, when he left for college I thought I wouldn't survive the separation. The difference this time is, that I know I will. I will survive to endure every inch of the 3 miles that will separate us. I adjusted last time. I got used to seeing him on occasional weekends and holidays and summer breaks. I tricked my heart into thinking he was just gone between the times he was home. Like summer camp, I told myself. He was gone, and then would be back. That got me through for a while. We believed he would never live under our roof again, that the family home was forever changed. We adjusted. Then he graduated from college and moved back home. That brought frowns to some outsiders of course. A young man with a college education should be out on his own, supporting himself. "He needs his own space and so do you" they would say. I agreed with them on the outside. On the inside I thought, "but just a little more time." Publicly I would complain about his room and laundry. Privately I thrilled at the familiar cadence of his steps upstairs and the very specific gallop he uses when he descends the stairs in the morning leaving for work. When he used to descend the stairs in the morning. This morning was the last morning. He moves his bed to the new place tonight. Which means when I rise early tomorrow morning, my quiet time will not be intruded upon by his gallop. I mean, I will be uninterrupted by the rhythmic steps of my first born because his steps will have moved on. I should have recorded that, darn it. I missed the last chance for that this morning. He punctuates his dissension with "hey mama". I think I need that to start my day out right. There is a list you know, of things that should happen each morning to get things started just right. The taste of the first cup of hot coffee, the weight of my bible on my lap, the turning of pages of the newspaper by my husband near by, and the gallop of my first born. I know the sound of the steps of the other two as well. They each have their own distinguishing cadence, but today the gallop is what I will miss. The new place doesn't have stairs, I hope he doesn't forget how to do it. I told him last night I was happy for him. Mother's are just by necessity, split personalities. We have to be. We have to speak blessing over them as they grow and encourage them, while all the time wanting to halt them from moving on. We want both. We wouldn't deny them the satisfaction of independence, but....Ouch. It takes me back to how enthusiastically we encouraged them to take their first steps. If I had looked far enough ahead to this day, I think I would have let him crawl a bit longer. So, go son, with our blessing. I mean it, no I don't, yes I do, no I don't...just don't forget the gallop.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Letters from a father...

For years I have wondered about my father. Though I was 11 when he suddenly died, I can remember very, very little about him. I have no personal internal testimony, nothing written on my heart that would convince me of his feelings for me or mine for him. I have searched so deeply in my memory files trying to recover a sense of him, or a sense of our relationship. It's just simply been a vacant spot. So instead of reminiscence and because of the void, I have searched long and hard to understand what my heavenly father thinks of me, just how does a father feel about his child? What a treasure I have found in discovering how a perfect father loves. As only God would do, he waited until that issue was settled (the one between Him and me) before allowing me to happen upon a box of letters written by my own Dad. Many letters. Kept for many years after his death in a simple cardboard box. Letters he wrote to his own parents during the early years of his marriage and through the last year of his life. About 15 years worth of letters, detailed unlike a man would normally write. But this was back before computers, free long distance and cheap travel. Writing was the way of communicating between his parents in Iowa and his new home after a bold move to California. My grandmother, probably never got over his moving west. She probably treasured each letter from him, held each to her nose hoping to catch a scent of him and after reading it over several times, held it close to her chest until the tears slowed. Then apparently carefully saved each along with all the others. My uncle, the keeper of the box, hesitated sending them to me. Since they weren't addressed to him and had been removed from the farm house once my grandparents passed away, he hadn't a clue what they contained. If he'd read them all, he wouldn't have a clue what they contained. Only a child looking for answers could decipher the depth of them. Once they arrived at my home, there were so many I laid them on the dining room table, sorting them by post mark, then began reading the year my parents married and one year later when I was born. What man describes in such tender words, his descriptions about the child he is expecting and then includes the simple details of a tiny daughter? Trying to paint a picture for his own mother, I guess. Though 40+ years apart, she and I both benefitted from his effort. Then one Sunday morning sitting in church, listening, but distracted, God got my attention. I have never heard anything like this before in my head, but it was as if someone slapped the top of a book. A sharp, loud noise that got my attention. And God said "Listen now, this is big. See the letters on the dining room table?" Yes, Lord, I whispered inside as I pictured them. " What are they?" he asked. They are letters from a father to his child, I answered him. I couldn't help it, the tears just starting spilling over. Searching the letters I had just wanted to know. I needed to know how my dad felt about me. What he thought about me and what I meant to him. Was I a joy, a delight to him? Was I in the way- an annoyance or an ornament in his home? At our earliest we know how to be nothing more or different than who we really are. We are raw us. Unable to be anything other than the genuine us without the ability or inclination to change for others. Our personality and temperament are in their purest form. We act more than react to others. Rejection at that age can be rejection of the deepest and most powerful kind because it cannot be tied to anything other the "who I am" not "what I am doing." I searched the letters to see if my father was accepting or rejecting me at that age. Was I loved by him? Was I acceptable, even lovable and could I find any evidence of how deep that love was? Was I worthy of capturing his heart and his delight? Did he adore me? Did he want to make plans for me and my future? Did he have dreams for me? Did he want to protect me? Did he have important things to teach me? Was he proud I was his? Did I have him wrapped around my tiny baby sized finger? Did he look forward to the "Father-Daughter dance" with the same heart ache/joy my own husband does when he looks at our daughter? Oh yes, I dad loved me. The timing of receiving the letters is amazing. My heavenly father has allowed me so many experiences, painful and confusing, then support, and time to cause me to search for the whys of it all-then to pursue Him for hope and healing. The painful memories sent me straight to my knees, broken and longing. I was desperate to have that need filled and my heart healed. I would, though, have been so lacking to find it all in the letters. My dad was human after all. Tender, loving and adoring yes, but my earthly father could never have met my every need even if he was still alive to love me. We were created differently- to yearn for the Father. The Savior. The one who is everything. The life in living. Had he given me the letters any earlier, I may have missed the whole thing. The letters on the table-stacks of them from a father to his child...My savior wanted me to read HIS letter and search for and understand who He is and how He feels about me. How He has always felt about me, back when I was a tiny baby in my innocence, but even as I was pursuing one sinful day after another. He knew then, I was looking for Him. I didn't know that was what I wanted, but he did. And so on Sunday morning he has said to me: "Pay attention, this is big! The letters from your dad tell you how he felt about you-these are my gift to you and I have kept them safe for years and no one even knew the value of them-Can you see me child? Can you understand my love for you?" "My letter to you is eternally more valuable and it tells you how I, God, the master of the universe, the Holy one, feels about you. Father-daughter letters are important, oh yes. My word is my letter to you. This is where I want you to be. Search my letter and see." And I thought I missed out on the father-daughter dance! Hardly. This is the Father-daughter dance of a lifetime! Praise you God, praise you................

Laying it down for a friend.

John 15:13 "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friend" NIV But I love the way the New Living Translation puts it even more... "And here is how to measure it--the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends." I know this verse refers to Christ and his true ultimate sacrifice of his living, breathing body for us. That to be seperated from his father even for a short time as he literally took on our sin was excrutiating for him. But that was obediance...doing his father's will, he lay down his life for his friends. I have witnessed this same sacrifice lately in my friends. That true obediance looks like conforming to the very pattern of Christ, laying something down for a friend. So many have come to us over these past 6 months to share their own past, painful experiences and choices to offer hope as we suffer the same pain. There is encouragement, hope and healing for us in the hearing of it. What is being layed down? Reputation, privacy, secret pain, vulnerability. Encouragement without experience is loving. Encouragement through experience is powerful. Doesn't it just seem right to lay it down for someone else? Doesn't the price we paid then, seem finally worth something now when we can use it to comfort someone else? Isn't there some redemption in the whole thing that was before just a painful past? Is it really true that allowing our God to use it, makes it worth the suffering? God often looks past the things we would easily offer him to use, and asks us to offer him the hidden things we think he could never use. It makes me want to dig deep to every corner, every hidden spot, every dark closet within and lay it out, display it before him, ugly as some of it is. Use it Lord. Find some meaning in it. Redeem it. Make it worth something. The gifts of sacrifice that have been laid before us, have not been lost on us. The great love and sacrifice that has been laid down has accomplished hope in the midst of suffering and light in the darkness. That is His way... it has been from the bring light into the darkness, and you have helped carry it.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Women just have lots of words! Its a fact. Lots of thoughts that must turn into words. For me, words that must come out. Thank goodness we also have good friends with ears to listen. In my case I believe I have worn out a friend or two at times just trying to get the words out and free up some space for more thoughts that must turn into words. Its not enough for us to just think or feel, we must express it. Using lots of words. Words that get stuck inside, sad ones or touching ones, turn into tears, where they are stored up in a spongy thing. Once the sponge is saturated, it takes but one word or thought unexpressed to start the leaking. You know what I mean. Men surely don't have as many words, but you would think God might have helped us out but giving them large capacity ears! When Kristen was 5 and frustrated with her older brother, she came to me needing to tell me what had happened, in words of course. Thank goodness the "use your words" training was working and she didn't hit him, but the words needed to come out. That particular morning I was tired of hearing it and decided to use the "work it out yourselves" tactic. Just as she entered the room with her two-toned, two- syllable "Mo-m" and started in to tell me what happened, I stopped her short..."I don't want to hear it, you need to work it out yourselves". I felt so proud of myself for directing her properly. Expecting her to turn and leave to address her brother, I carried on with my hair dryer. After a few short minutes I glanced over to where she was still standing. Legs locked, face red, lip quivering, and tears just about to spill over the edge of her huge blue eyes. "If I can't tell you, how will I get my yuckies out?" um hm...words. We just need to get 'em out.