We have a wild thing. He is two and a half with blonde hair, blue eyes, and dimples that will equally get him into – and -out of trouble.
We are continually learning our dance, he and I. Funny how an hour ago we battled for control, and now a mere hour later I hear a soft whisper, “Mommy, I want to be next to you.” And so, he, his space ship, and his pretend power tool curl up next to me in the bed. I dozed off to his peaceful breathing and a plastic wing digging into my back. Unsuspectedly, my heart softened.
You may relate. Intermingled with sweet moments of smitten love, my boy has a knack for not just “pushing” my buttons. He subscribes to a more pro-active approach. He seeks those buttons out, stands on them, and occasionally jumps on them until we simply cry out mercy!
My husband and I – we need to be each other’s encouragement, assurance, and perseverance personified. Often we just don’t know. Because this raising a strong willed boy thing is no joke. Where did he come from? (Though if memory and humility serve me correctly, I may have been a bit of a high energy handful, myself)…. Our 2 year old check up was met with all the usual questions and then my confession that “Gee, Doc, is there something wrong with him? He just gets on our nerves, and we are constantly disciplining him at home.” Doc’s diagnosis was that he is a perfectly normal little boy who continuously hopes to run the household and proposed treatment: a firm, gracious reminder that he indeed, does not.
And that’s why you got a spanking on Christmas morning. Child, just because Santa came does not mean you may lose your mind. Tis the season for Jesus. He comes from a lineage that promotes
sparing the rod spoils the child. Kindly consider yourself upgraded, we use a spanking spoon and not a rod. Merry Christmas.
In the professional arena, I have mad respect for the big picture thinkers – those that can see an entire company each time they speak to any individual employee. I pray to do that with our sweet, wild thing. I pray to look beyond the moment of frustration to know that time spent disciplining and training now will reap a harvest of fruit later, for him, and for those that he will go on to impact. Sometimes I just need to pray for a parenting zeal, for a clarity that can both embrace today’s facts and look forward with a hope that reaches beyond tomorrow. I have to believe that I will grow into the perfectly awkward combination of fierceness and tenderness to not only win, but keep my boy’s heart.
Tonight that meant sleeping with a space ship. I don’t know yet what it will mean tomorrow, but I am committing to the big picture.
Last night as I tried to go to sleep, my heart grew increasingly heavy for single moms, and their seemingly endless, incredible load. My mind raced with different women and their situations and circumstances. As I tried to quiet my soul, I did hear God’s gentle whisper: “Shut up and pray” (Yes, while I firmly believe God is the God of love, I know He can be very direct, right when I need it. I have had a few “shut up and pray” moments in my walk. They always bear fruit.) I’m going to spend every day this week leading up to Sunday praying for single moms, those I know personally, those I don’t.
Dear Single Mom:
I don’t entirely know your situation. I’ve haven’t walked in your shoes. But I respect you. I hold you up in prayer under the bone deep exhaustion that I imagine you feel, always on, always thinking, always feeling like you are the one and only tasked with provision for your family: emotionally, spiritually, physically, financially. I don’t need to know the details to know your days are long and overwhelming and often seem too hard. During this week, our culture will go nuts encouraging us to shop for and lift up the Fathers. I’m always up for encouraging – bring on the party. Let’s lift up and encourage where it fits, but I pray this week that your loneliness isn’t intensified, that this week of more encouraging for Dads doesn’t amplify any feeling that you are less. Because you are not, Single Mom. You are awesome and wonderful and hard working and resilient. Your efforts are not wasted or unappreciated. Daily, you are enough.
Father in Heaven, as we spend this Monday night, beginning another week, please love on and encourage Single Moms. You know exactly who and where they are. Please help them to know that even in their darkest moments, your sliver of light is enough to buoy them on and to continue to make a difference in their children’s lives. Please give them energy and perseverance and reason to smile. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
Yes, I did wear my Sunday best. My best, most favorite blue sweatpants. It was a very…restful Easter weekend, in our little neck of the woods. I’ve never been more thankful for a fenced in backyard, where I could be nature explorer, and tickle monster, and dandelion inspector, and dog cuddle-er. We were sidewalk chalk artists and cloud admirers.
The hubby took a whirl wind trip to NYC to celebrate a dear friend’s wedding, and the kids and I stayed back, and simply loved and loved the simple. And I came down with tonsillitis, as my body is so fond of doing, at least 2 out of the major Holidays during the year. Which is why I stayed in sweats and maybe showered, (at extremely late-in-the-day intervals), and thanked God for a stocked pantry which meant I didn’t have to leave the house. I had wonderful people I could call if I were in need, but I felt very lavished in the sense that because our existence was so simple, I didn’t need.
So, I didn’t wear my “Sunday best,” dress up the kids in fantastically wonderful cute outfits, nor photo-document easterly activity…or did I? At one point, we did traverse about a half mile down the road to Goodwill, because well, I LOVE Goodwill. We found a tinkertoy set which delighted all of us. I have pictures of little ones building and experimenting. I have a picture of me in my blue, fuzzy robe taken by a little one, I’m half asleep, but happy. I have a picture of love, though no dyed Easter egg in sight.
I didn’t get to church – on one of the most celebrated Christian Holidays. I wasn’t apart of the free-coffee-and-doughnut-and-cum-by yah-grace-has-come-explosion-of-excitement. And I was sad about that. But, God still came to me. Because that is what He does.
Hopefully next year, I will do all of the above that I “missed” on this year. But more importantly, as I close out my Easter, 2015, I am heartened that Jesus rose, not because we know how to look cute and procreate cute little beings, and not because we have mastered how to maintain fun traditions. He rose because He wanted to, whether we knew we needed it or not. Whether we understand that deep down, our souls want it. He rose for the times that life chugs along great, and He rose for the times when it doesn’t make much sense either.
He rose for me, with a very intentional and mindful purpose for my life, even if my most immediate existence was spent in blue sweatpants on the couch. And that’s something I find worth celebrating well after the jellybeans leave the shelves 🙂
Good news: you can now add “stuffed animal hostage negotiator” to my impressively growing repertoire.
This morning, this is the stuffed zebra we all cried over.
I really don’t know what it is like to have siblings – in the traditional sense. In a line of 5 kids, I am the last, but there is a 14 year gap between #5(me), and #1 (my oldest sister). Growing up, my siblings were a potent combination of loving caregiver and mythical playmate: everything they did was cool and I wanted to be just like them. They were older and off doing things: big, important things. They popped home from time to time from various adventures (you know, like backpacking across the country, and college, and medical school, and moving to Hawaii, stuff like that). On these few and various visits with them, I didn’t really have to share with them, I just basked in their coolness.
When my brother graduated high school and left for some adventure, my parents got me a dog. Oscar the dachshund was the epitome of a canine companion. He always patiently listened. He snuggled, he calmed, he played, he was just there, in the very important way that dogs are. For all intents and purposes, he was my sibling. We only squabbled a couple of times, like when I was ten, and got up to go to the bathroom, and he ate the entire contents of my Easter basket. I quickly forgave him. I even didn’t mind cleaning up his indiscretion, because, you know, dogs really aren’t designed to devour chocolate bunnies, marshmallow peeps, and jelly beans.
Fast forward 2 decades later, and I am actively watching sibling dynamics play out, every day, in front of my eyes. It is so interesting. Never before have I seen such intimate relationships develop. These two simultaneously take joy in both aggravation and devotion. They love to give each other fits of frustration only to dissolve in fits of giggles moments later. They love to bug each other and bug me if I separate them for too long. This morning I was at a loss of words. We were all crying over this dang, stuffed zebra. Dear 5 year old, you have had that zebra for years. You only want it now because your brother has grown outrageously fond of it. Until now, you never gave that zebra the time of day! Why, why on earth, do you wait until a busy chaotic week day morning when I am trying to get the three of us out the door, yucky antibiotic into the 2 year old, and everyone in the car, to pick a fight about the stuffed zebra? I offered few words and walked away. And guess what? They handled it. When I returned to the scene, the zebra had changed hands and all was peaceful in our world. For now. Maybe I helped? I can’t say for sure. One thing I do know, there is a dynamic here, the art of sibling-hood that works both with or without me. At any given moment, much is taking place: they are both fighting and defending against and for one another, starting and resolving conflict, and experimenting with compassion and competition.
Oxford Dictionary says that art is “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.” Sibling-hood is not always appreciated, but often holds striking emotional power. In sibling dynamics, I see two little people applying and expressing themselves, and figuring out life together. Sure, body slamming each other is not as aesthetically pleasing as a painting or sculpture, but I’m often surprised at the creativity it involves. As I blinked through my tears (that zebra pushed me over the edge, ya’ll), I realized that this was a reason that I wanted more than one: the front row seat to watching the art of sibling-hood. It ain’t always pretty in the moment, but much of art is like that. Or worse, the art is not even appreciated until long after the artist is gone. Through my frustration, I prayed to appreciate the moment of right now.
I’ll also confess that I’ve started the daydream that involves the art of maturity: our kids grow into adulthood, have their own children, and realize how fantastically freaking awesome their mom is :).
I lay in the green grass of our backyard, staring at little purple flowers, bathing in sunshine. This, my friends, is why I love living in Georgia. I nearly lose my mind in the short few months that truly are our winter. The dawn of March finds my heart, soul, mind screaming in unison: Get. Me. Outside.
And keep me there, thank you very much.
It’s hard not to think of creation, sitting out here in it. The other night I felt like reading Genesis, just for the fun of it. I like doing that. Just picking up something to read with no set agenda, no high expectation of earth shattering revelations, just reading.
And what I saw, with fresh eyes, is just how much God enjoys creating. He likes it. He wanted to create and so He did, a lot. I’ve never thought of it that simply before. Oddly, He refers to it as work, valuable, heartfelt work. And yet He also says throughout the scriptures that there is nothing better than enjoying one’s work. How interesting that a God that could simply BE chose instead to CREATE. Creating is a mighty, meaty calling, and I am beginning to believe that we, made in His image, enjoy creating too.
I never used to think this. Creating was for other people, those that were off doing more beautiful things than I. Never mustering more than a “C” in Art class, I believed that creating was not my thing. Now I am a new convert to this creating process: blooming with a new belief that even though I may not have shined like other classmates, I am also not meant to be dull.
I am a parchment paper Momma. For this is how I am branching out creatively. The other night our daughter proposed making homemade pretzels. Homemade pretzels on a Thursday night with a “not very domesticated mother?” It is just these kinds of nudges out of my comfort zone that continually surprise me and delight me as a parent. Why would we make homemade pretzels on a Thursday night? Or more importantly, why shouldn’t we? So, off to Publix we went for the ingredients, and at 35 years, I bought my very first box of parchment paper. It felt a little sacred. For until then, parchment paper was for other people. You know, creative baking types. Behold! I have a parchment paper, people. This is a big deal. We made the pretzels. They turned out pretty well. A couple days later, I tried a cake recipe. It did not turn out well. Yet, for the first time, the fun in the opportunity to create outweighed the reality that it did not taste good. For the first time, I didn’t feel the weight of defeat, I felt the surge that comes with answering the call to create.
I love watching our children align with the call to create. They do it so effortlessly and joyfully. They don’t over-think it or over-analyze. They are rich in their use of colors. They have big plans, even if left with half dried play dough and broken crayons, almost dried out markers and scrap paper.
They have no sense of how their art measures up against that of other people; free to bask in the glory of the process of thinking something and then living it, however they picture it in their minds.
I am getting better at it. Creating beyond the limits that have lived in my brain for too long. Stickers are a safe place to start. I simply adore scrapbooking stickers. I stick them everywhere. Everywhere the call to create takes me. Sometimes I position them however feels right on card stock and I frame it. And I smile. I take a little break, and simply celebrate creation. And then I smile and sigh, contently, because in this moment, I am like my Creator.
Intimacy: I’ve been playing through this word a lot lately.
Last week, when blogs went all whirly with differing perspectives on the Fifty Shades Debate, I wanted to join in. I wanted to be one of the big kids on the virtual blog playground, throw in my two cents, you know, feel like I could hang with the big dogs.
But I could not pull my thoughts together in a meaningful way. In short, our conviction is we aren’t going to see it. I’m kind of blunt. I think if you have two free hours, and you’re married, you should go jump in bed with your husband. (You may have 50 shades, but it will not be dreary or gray!)
Intimacy: we all want it. And it is not limited to sex. It gets thrown into that arena the most, but there is a lot more to it. And I think there may lie some issue with Fifty Shades, it suggests and shows intimacy inaccurately, falsely. When you know the good and purity in something, and you see it tarnished, it is a bummer.
The dictionary defines intimacy as “a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group.” We want closeness, the safety of familiarity, and loving personal relationships. We want acceptance and confidence that who we really, truly are, is enough.
The above picture made my morning today. Our 4 year old daughter drew it on the way to school. When I asked her what it was, she said “Us 4, cuddling on the couch.” That is intimacy. Closeness that cuddles and smiles together.
And so, I am meditating on intimacy much these days. How can I better communicate closeness to my husband, my children, the kids at church, the women at church? These are all people worthy of intimacy.
I walked by our kitchen sink on Sunday night and felt a little sad. A few hours before, it had been empty and sparkling clean. Why will we always have dirty dishes? Then I had a perspective shift. Those dirty dishes mean we stayed in, and cooked, instead of eating out. Financial win! Those dishes are remnants of the special time our daughter and I shared baking banana bread. Those dishes wanted me to feel defeat. Instead, I waved a victory flag in celebrating God’s provision and stewardship. I waved my victory flag, and took myself to bed.