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Archive for September 2009

tiny messages . Sing!

It’s hard to muster up a song sometimes. The tiredness of the day, the busyness of the schedule and the frustration of the combination sometimes just sucks the song right out of me. Then, I hear the simple, sweetly spoken request. “Sing!”
Our nightly bedtime ritual includes a beloved lullaby CD that I made for Little Drummer Boy and Bug from iTunes downloads several years ago. The CD is worn and the sound is crackly from use. The songs are so familiar that any time we hear them on the radio, a chorus of “our bedtime song!” follows in unison. As each boy takes his turn reading with Mommy, then climbing in bed, I cover them with blankets, rub their backs and start the music. Invariably on the weariest nights, the nights when supper was late on the table and baths took longer than expected, the ones when I’ve been the most impatient or the most haggard, I hear it. “Sing!”
It’s hard for an impatient heart to sing a song of peace. It’s hard for a hurried heart to sing a song of rest. It’s hard for a heart screaming with a million and one distractions to sing a quiet song. Still, in this heart of indulgence toward my precious gifts, I try. I sing. “Come to Jesus. Come to Jesus. And live.”
Something happens when I ignore the resistance amid yawns. When I lay aside the fatigue and the irritability and offer the frequently off-key and misregistered melody of “yes” to my little ones, I find that my heart actually opens to believing the lyrics anew, to embracing the words I impart. And in my spirit, I say “yes.” I sing.
Sometimes God allows me a special blessing akin to the one He enjoys from His children. Every now and then my gifts sing along–their minds following and anticipating, but only able to release the last words of each line. Often the only word they sing clearly is “Jesus.” Their tender hearts, unstained by cynicism and self-consciousness, sing out to Him. Ever open, all that they are calls out to all that they know of Him. In that moment, unhidden, it’s His name. In song.
And in that moment, opened by their openness, I find that I sing. Broken down and revealed, in desperate restlessness, pronouncing peace, I sing. To these gifts. To this God of all seasons, of all days. And, all that I can know of my heart calls out to all that I recognize of Him–summarized. In His name.
I sing.

gift_tag_head

It’s hard to muster up a song sometimes. The tiredness of the day, the busyness of the schedule and the frustration of the combination sometimes just sucks the song right out of me. Then, I hear the simple, sweetly spoken request. “Sing!”

Our nightly bedtime ritual includes a beloved lullaby CD that I made for Little Drummer Boy and Bug from iTunes downloads several years ago. The CD is worn and the sound is crackly from use. The songs are so familiar that any time we hear them on the radio, a chorus of “our bedtime song!” follows in unison. Each night as each boy takes his turn reading with Mommy, then climbing in bed, I cover them with blankets, rub their backs and start the music. Invariably on the weariest nights, the nights when supper was late on the table and baths took longer than expected, the ones when I’ve been the most impatient or the most haggard, I hear it. “Sing!”

It’s hard for an impatient heart to sing a song of peace. It’s hard for a hurried heart to sing a song of rest. It’s hard for a heart screaming with a million and one distractions to sing a quiet song. Still, in this heart of indulgence toward my precious gifts, I try. I sing. “Come to Jesus. Come to Jesus. And live.”

Something happens when I ignore the resistance amid yawns. When I lay aside the fatigue and the irritability and offer the frequently off-key and misregistered melody of “yes” to my little ones, I find that my heart actually opens to believing the lyrics anew, to embracing the words I impart. And in my spirit, I say “yes.” I sing.

Sometimes God allows me a special blessing akin to the one He enjoys from His children. Every now and then my gifts sing along–their minds following and anticipating, but only able to release the last words of each line. Often the only word they sing clearly is “Jesus.” Their tender hearts, unstained by cynicism and self-consciousness, sing out to Him. Ever open, all that they are calls out to all that they know of Him. In that moment, unhidden, it’s His name. In song.

And in that moment, opened by their openness, I find that I sing. Broken down and revealed, in desperate restlessness, pronouncing peace, I sing. To these gifts. To this God of all seasons, of all days. And, all that I can know of my heart calls out to all that I recognize of Him–summarized. In His name.

I sing.

Untitled Hymn by Chris Rice (our personal favorite)

Weak and wounded sinner
Lost and left to die
O, raise your head, for love is passing by
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus and live!

Now your burden’s lifted
And carried far away
And precious blood has washed away the stain, so
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus and live!

And like a newborn baby
Don’t be afraid to crawl
And remember when you walk
Sometimes we fall…so
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus and live!

Sometimes the way is lonely
And steep and filled with pain
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain, then
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus and live!

O, and when the love spills over
And music fills the night
And when you can’t contain your joy inside, then
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus and live!

And with your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory’s side, and
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live!

The tiny messages God continues to include with our gifts — 2 little joys of boys and 1 little jewel of a girl, each with open eyes, open ears, open hearts, and much to teach. “Behold children are a gift of the Lord…” (psalm 127:1)

Waking Up on 9/11

“We are living in a time of pervasive sleepwalking.”
I first read this quote back in 2000, and it has stayed embedded in my thoughts ever since. It speaks to the numbness we often feel in lives of complacency. The statement was attributed to the Greek 20th century poet, George Sefaris (circa 1939) in a book I read called Inventing Paradise by Edmund Keeley. It was an account of the so-called “generation of the 30s,” writers who cut their teeth during the years surrounding World War II in Greece, many from the exile to which they fled during the German invasion. It chronicled their activities and lifestyles through the war, the Greek occupation and the subsequent civil war. The book was primarily about Henry Miller and his friendship with many notable Greek nationalist poets, and it contained beautiful excerpts from some of their writings–many of which were not political in nature, but told the story of daily life in their homeland. George Sefaris was one of those poets. He spent much of his early life in exile, but later became a diplomat and was the first Greek to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1963.
In reading the book, I found it very compelling that through writing so vividly about life as a Greek, poets like Sefaris tapped into common thoughts and hopes that transcend geography. Such is the way of poetry! Henry Miller wrote of George Sefaris that he “had begun to ripen into a universal poet–by passionately rooting himself into the soil of his people.”
So, why am I writing this now? On this, the eighth anniversary of the September 11th attacks on our country, I’m thinking about the pitfalls of freedom–how though we are jarred from our slumber, we often so quickly slip back into its complacency. I almost forgot about 9/11. Eight years ago we were riveted to our computers and radios at my office. The second plane hit the towers shortly after I got to work. By the time we got out of a scheduled client meeting, the towers were down. This week it’s been just a fleeting thought.
As I often do, I was looking through one of my old journals this week and found my notes from Inventing Paradise, including Sefaris’ quote, and I could clearly remember the vivid thought process of Keeley’s description of that time period. I read the book in 2000, a year before the attacks of September 11th. In my journal entries, I recorded how accounts of the German occupation of Greece and the subsequent exile of many citizens reminded me that the only reason I can learn about some of the atrocities that occurred then is that those poets and statesmen survived. The stories of the ones who were murdered can only be pieced together, and some may never be told.

In 2001 we had the benefit of video cameras, cell phones, impromptu photographers and all that 21st century technology has to offer to record the events of 9/11. Still, some stories are only pieced together, and some may never be told. In these past eight years, the concerns, red or orange alerts and daily images of destruction have diminished. The shock and horror is not nearly as acute. And, though it’s colored much of our public and social policy, at times in the day to day it’s so forgettable.
My how freedom so easily settles into complacency of spirit. We live in the excess of a generation who has never known famine, lasting fear or often the honor required by sacrifice. My generation. September 11, 2001 only gave us a glimpse. Sadly enough, our freedom is often taken for granted because we only know how to be free. We’ve never experienced anything else. The events of 9/11 were the closest my generation has come to thinking our freedom was in real jeopardy–and even that jeopardy has turned more into an outrage and a springboard for the hot button issue du jour.  Entrenched in freedom, I can so easily default to laziness, restlessness, ingratitude–to being asleep. George Sefaris’ observation of 70 years ago is a telling statement. Have I become lulled by my excess, my good fortune to have been born free and my privelege to have been granted freedom for all my life? Have I settled again into slumber, into contentedly closing my eyes to the world and the stories I encounter each day? Am I sleepwalking through this life of freedom?

“We are living in a time of pervasive sleepwalking.”

I first read this quote back in 2000, and it has stayed embedded in my thoughts ever since. It speaks to the numbness we often feel in lives of complacency. The statement was attributed to the Greek 20th century poet, George Sefaris (circa 1939) in a book I read called Inventing Paradise by Edmund Keeley. It was an account of the so-called “generation of the 30s,” writers who cut their teeth during the years surrounding World War II in Greece, many from the exile to which they fled during the German invasion. It chronicled their activities and lifestyles through the war, the Greek occupation and the subsequent civil war. The book was primarily about Henry Miller and his friendship with many notable Greek nationalist poets, and it contained beautiful excerpts from some of their writings–many of which were not political in nature, but told the story of daily life in their homeland. George Sefaris was one of those poets. He spent much of his early life in exile, but later became a diplomat and was the first Greek to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1963.

In reading the book, I found it very compelling that through writing so vividly about life as a Greek, poets like Sefaris tapped into common thoughts and hopes that transcend geography. Such is the way of poetry! Henry Miller wrote of George Sefaris that he “had begun to ripen into a universal poet–by passionately rooting himself into the soil of his people.”

So, why am I writing this now? On this, the eighth anniversary of the September 11th attacks on our country, I’m thinking about the pitfalls of freedom–how though we are jarred from our slumber, we often so quickly slip back into its complacency. I almost forgot about 9/11. Eight years ago we were riveted to our computers and radios at my office. The second plane hit the towers shortly after I got to work. By the time we got out of a scheduled client meeting, the towers were down. This week it’s been just a fleeting thought.

As I often do, I was looking through one of my old journals this week and found my notes from Inventing Paradise, including Sefaris’ quote, and I could clearly remember the vivid thought process surrounding Keeley’s description of that time period. I read the book in 2000, a year before the attacks of September 11th. In my journal entries, I recorded how accounts of the German occupation of Greece and the subsequent exile of many citizens reminded me that the only reason I can learn about some of the atrocities that occurred then is that those poets and statesmen survived. The stories of the ones who were murdered can only be pieced together, and some may never be told.

In 2001 we had the benefit of video cameras, cell phones, impromptu photographers and all that 21st century technology has to offer to record the events of 9/11. We have amazing collections of photos like those from the LIFE collection above documenting the heroism of so many. Still, some stories are only pieced together, and some may never be told. In these past eight years, the concerns, red or orange alerts and daily images of destruction have diminished. The shock and horror are not nearly as acute. And, though it’s colored much of our public and social policy, at times in the day to day it’s so forgettable.

My how freedom so easily settles into complacency of spirit. We live in the excess of a generation who has never known famine, lasting fear or often the sacrifice required by honor. My generation. September 11, 2001 only gave us a glimpse. Sadly enough, our freedom is often taken for granted because we only know how to be free. We’ve never experienced anything else. The events of 9/11 were the closest my generation has come to thinking our freedom was in real jeopardy–and even that jeopardy has turned more into an outrage and a springboard for the hot button issue du jour.  When I read about the pervasive apathy or disillusionment associated with “generation X,” I wonder. What do we have to be disillusioned about? We’ve lived our whole lives in the lap of freedom’s luxury. Entrenched in freedom, I can so easily default to laziness, restlessness, and ingratitude–to being asleep to the things that really matter, to the responsibilities inherent in this place of freedom. George Sefaris’ observation of 70 years ago is telling. Have I become lulled by my excess, my good fortune to have been born free and my privelege to have been granted freedom for all my life? Have I settled again into slumber, into contentedly closing my eyes to the world and the stories I encounter each day? Am I sleepwalking through this life of freedom?

Coming Home: Labor Day Memories

Happy Labor Day! Last year on this day, I brought my Baby Girl home from the hospital for the first time. It gives new meaning to the celebration no “labor.”  Beyond culminating the discomfort of an August pregnancy in Mississippi, I remember feeling so incredibly overjoyed to actually hold her on the outside, to see and touch her. I remember that feeling with each of my gifts. Those few days in the hospital are necessary, but restless. Whether it’s the physical relief of being able to sit or rise unassisted from overstuffed chairs again or the contentment of finally bringing a little one into the nest you’ve prepared, there’s just something comforting about the soul sigh that comes with bringing a baby home.
I love coming home. I enjoy the feeling of driving up to the place where you lay your head. It gives a tangible spin to that sense of belonging created by family. For my preschoolers, home is the center of their view of the world, their understanding of how life works. Each person expresses it differently, but the comfort and joy of home makes its way into every heart.
For Squiggle, it’s the announcement of our arrival. We choose our left or right turns out of the preschool parking lot. We “wheee” down a few hills and look for elusive tractors and firetrucks, but the last turn with our driveway in view is unmistakable. “There’s OUR house.”
For Little Drummer Boy, it’s opening the door for everyone. We race to get out of the truck with juice cups and favorite friends in hand. We make our way up the walkway with no skinned knees and our armloads in tact. And then, Little Drummer Boy opens the door. Usually a small crack gives a quick peek inside, and then he bursts in with a bang. Bouncing into the big red chair means we are home.
For Quiver, it comes out in more subtle ways. Finally coming home is turning off the lights in his downstairs office and taking off his work boots. It’s closing the safety gate at the top of the steps with Baby Girl smiles greeting him. Sometimes I think it’s the trappings of having a celebration-junkie wife in the house. For grilling out, “Are you gonna get out that blue cloth? ‘Cause that makes it nice.” After furniture rearranging, “This is nice. It’s good to have a change sometimes.” “That smells nice,” from a freshly cleaned bathroom. Often home is the details men don’t do for themselves.
For Baby Girl, it’s my comfort level. In our house I know she can try out her walking virtually free from a constant eye. With a few doors strategically closed and the familiar placement of our toys, she doesn’t necessarily need me to monitor her progress. And let’s not forget the faithful “Mommy!” from Little Drummer Boy or Squiggle should she wander into forbidden territory. That’s just part of home.
Last Labor Day weekend, Baby Girl came unexpectedly. I knew something was a little different when I woke up on August 30th. When my water broke at the breakfast table, it was an unmistakable clue, and we were off to the races. We were only in the hospital room for an hour and a half before Baby Girl made her debut. She was two weeks early, and she’s been pushing the envelope ever since, eager to catch up with her brothers.
This year for Labor Day, we are nursing Baby Girl back to health from a case of the flu and dosing up everyone else to try and prevent it from spreading. The flu changed our Labor Day plans for a weekend on the farm, but we are still enjoying an extra day away from the normal schedule of work. I’m thinking about home and work, and rest from labor. One of Little Drummer Boy’s morning prayer requests filters to the surface.
“Let Mommy not get lost at work.”
It was followed by the request to “not let Squiggle get lost at home,” but it stuck. It’s an admonition I take to heart. As much as I enjoy my job and freelance writing, I don’t want to get lost there. I don’t even want to get lost in blogging. I always want to come home–physically, mentally, and emotionally. I want to offer the best of myself to these gifts in this home, and pay my closest attention here where so much is riding on it. It’s a good reminder for this Labor Day.

Happy Labor Day! Last year on this day, I brought my Baby Girl home from the hospital for the first time. It gives new meaning to the celebration no “labor.”  Beyond culminating the discomfort of an August pregnancy in Mississippi, I remember feeling so incredibly overjoyed to actually hold her on the outside, to see and touch her. I remember that feeling with each of my gifts. Those few days in the hospital are necessary, but restless. Whether it’s the physical relief of being able to sit or rise unassisted from overstuffed chairs again or the contentment of finally bringing a little one into the nest you’ve prepared, there’s just something comforting about the soul sigh that comes with bringing a baby home.

I love coming home. I enjoy the feeling of driving up to the place where you lay your head. It gives a tangible spin to that sense of belonging created by family. For my preschoolers, home is the center of their view of the world, their understanding of how life works. Each person expresses it differently, but the comfort and joy of home makes its way into every heart.

For Squiggle, it’s the announcement of our arrival. We choose our left or right turns out of the preschool parking lot. We “wheee” down a few hills and look for elusive tractors and firetrucks, but the last turn with our driveway in view is unmistakable. “There’s OUR house.”

For Little Drummer Boy, it’s opening the door for everyone. We race to get out of the truck with juice cups and favorite friends in hand. We make our way up the walkway with no skinned knees and our armloads in tact. And then, Little Drummer Boy opens the door. Usually a small crack gives a quick peek inside, and then he bursts in with a bang. Bouncing into the big red chair means we are home.

For Quiver, it comes out in more subtle ways. Finally coming home is turning off the lights in his downstairs office and taking off his work boots. It’s closing the safety gate at the top of the steps with Baby Girl smiles greeting him. Sometimes I think it’s the trappings of having a celebration-junkie wife in the house. For grilling out, “Are you gonna get out that blue cloth? ‘Cause that makes it nice.” After furniture rearranging, “This is nice. It’s good to have a change sometimes.” “That smells nice,” from a freshly cleaned bathroom. Often home is the details men don’t do for themselves.

For Baby Girl, it’s my comfort level. In our house I know she can try out her walking virtually free from a constant eye. With a few doors strategically closed and the familiar placement of our toys, she doesn’t necessarily need me to monitor her progress. And let’s not forget the faithful “Mommy!” from Little Drummer Boy or Squiggle should she wander into forbidden territory. That’s just part of home.

For me, it’s all of the above.

Last Labor Day weekend, Baby Girl came unexpectedly. I knew something was a little different when I woke up on August 30th. When my water broke at the breakfast table, it was an unmistakable clue, and we were off to the races. We were only in the hospital room for an hour and a half before Baby Girl made her debut. She was two weeks early, and she’s been pushing the envelope ever since, eager to catch up with her brothers.

This year for Labor Day, we are nursing Baby Girl back to health from a case of the flu and dosing up everyone else to try and prevent it from spreading. The flu changed our Labor Day plans for a weekend on the farm, but we are still enjoying an extra day away from the normal schedule of work. I’m thinking about home and work, and rest from labor. One of Little Drummer Boy’s morning prayer requests filters to the surface.

“Let Mommy not get lost at work.”

It was followed by the request to “not let Squiggle get lost at home,” but it stuck. It’s an admonition I take to heart. As much as I enjoy my job and freelance writing, I don’t want to get lost there. I don’t even want to get lost in blogging. I always want to come home–physically, mentally, and emotionally. I want to offer the best of myself to these gifts in this home, and pay my closest attention here where so much is riding on it. It’s a good reminder this Labor Day.

You’re Mine

I promised Travis something the other night that I really can’t promise him. At least not honestly. I promised that Mama would never let anyone take him from me. Who knows exactly where these thoughts come from? Since I usually can’t trace my own thoughts with complete accuracy, those of my 4 year old are even more elusive. But, this train started with a discussion of how he and his favorite lamb had been separated while we were in our living room reading bedtime stories.
LDB: I don’t like it when my lamb is separated from me.
Mama: I understand. I don’t ever like it when you and Squiggle and Baby Girl are separated from me. I always want you with me.
LDB: Well, we would be separated if a policeman came and took me away. [puzzled about where that came from]
Mama: Sweetie, a policeman will never come and take you from Mommy. You belong with Mommy.
LDB: If someone took me away from you, would you tell them “no?”
Mama: Yes, sweetie. Mama would never let anyone take you from me.
LDB: Not even a mean man. [puzzled about that too]
Mama: No, darlin.’ Nobody is going to take you away from me.
LDB: Well, good. Because I want to be with you.
Mama: You will be, because you belong with Mommy.
LDB: Because I’m yours.
Mama: That’s right. You’re mine. God gave you–and Squiggle and Baby Girl–to Mommy and Daddy. Noone will take you away from me.
There it is. “Noone will take you away from me.” That’s the promise I can’t keep. I’m sometimes haunted by the fact that there is always the possibility that something or someone–some circumstance–could rob me of seeing and knowing and experiencing his blessedness.
I could write this post 6000 times and never feel I’ve actually said it. I can never adequately express just how much the existence of this one human being has changed my life forever. It’s Little Drummer Boy only by virtue of the fact that I was a half a miniscule more accustomed to being turned inside out with Bug and Baby Girl, since they don’t bear the burden of being first. It’s true. Having children rocked my world.
Listening to Little Drummer Boy, it’s amazing to me how even being so brief in this world, he can recognize and sense a place of belonging–and that he wants it. The concern of separation from that place somehow made it’s way into his thoughts from who knows where. And, I must acknowledge that it makes its way into mine more often that I care to admit. When I look into their eyes, I realize without a hint of doubt that all three of my gifts scare me to death. And, in seeing them, I realize the strength of the white-knuckle grip I’ve had on my soul since their birth–frozen in fear that I would have to see them suffer and thus witness my own heart shredded beyond repair.
There. I said it. Out loud (virtually, speaking).
Though I’m not one to give in to fear, in the unflenching grip of the last four years, I’ve also realized that sometimes God scares me to death too. His power is too great to comprehend, and his giving and taking is too complex to predict. I’ve always had a strong sense of confidence in God’s purpose and plans, an ability to believe and trust His actions. But, in the last years of watching the most precious beings I’ve known walk around before me, I have found myself shying away from Him. Afraid that He might take them from me, as if they were mine to lose. I’ve gently shielded my heart from Him, as if that were possible. In that doomed shielding, I’ve resisted the rest found in knowing Him more intimately each day, the joy of yielding to the insistence of His presence. And, though I know in my mind that His love is pure and wise and good, releasing my soul to His full molding has been difficult.
With my Baby Girl now a one-year-old and the prospect of Little Drummer Boy going to “big school” a year from now, the last few weeks have been emotional. I’m realizing more and more each day the brevity of that time when they are so dependent on me. And with the shift to their own independence comes an ever-increasing confrontation with things beyond my control, things outside the walls forming my comfort level. I’ve been slowly, but surely, allowing my spirit to catch up with all the changes, the joys, and yes, the fears of the last four years. Little by little, I’m letting go of the strangle hold I’ve had on my own ability to take an unencumbered deep breath, and relinquishing my spirit again to the wooing of my Creator.  And my children’s Creator.
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine.” (isaiah 43:1)
I’m learning again that those words, “you’re mine” are the solution, not the source of fear. Just as saying “you’re mine” to Little Drummer Boy carries with it the full weight of everything I have to give, everything I am willing to give up, everything I would move, everything I would hold fast in order to ensure his abundance; so it is with God.
In hearing the words “you’re Mine,” I can also hear “they’re Mine.” I am released to the blessed rest of His kind intention, the rest of His unfailing, unending and ever-active love.
In my fear I’ve come full circle, realizing that the only hope I have is to throw myself fully upon His love and mercy at each hour. And to throw myself fully into loving my gifts and experiencing them at every stage. To live each day, hour and moment without wishing I had.

I promised Little Drummer Boy something the other night that I really can’t promise him. At least not honestly. I promised that Mama would never let anyone take him from me. Who knows exactly where these thoughts come from? Since I usually can’t trace my own thoughts with complete accuracy, those of my 4 year old are even more elusive. But, this train started with a discussion of how he and his favorite lamb had been separated while we were in our living room reading bedtime stories.

LDB: I don’t like it when my lamb is separated from me.

Mama: I understand. I don’t ever like it when you and Squiggle and Baby Girl are separated from me. I always want you with me.

LDB: Well, we would be separated if a policeman came and took me away. [puzzled about where that came from]

Mama: Sweetie, a policeman will never come and take you from Mommy. You belong with Mommy.

LDB: If someone took me away from you, would you tell them “no?”

Mama: Yes, sweetie. Mama would never let anyone take you from me.

LDB: Not even a mean man. [puzzled about that too]

Mama: No, darlin.’ Nobody is going to take you away from me.

LDB: Well, good. Because I want to be with you.

Mama: You will be, because you belong with Mommy.

LDB: Because I’m yours.

Mama: That’s right. You’re mine. God gave you–and Squiggle and Baby Girl–to Mommy and Daddy. Noone will take you away from me.

There it is. “Noone will take you away from me.” That’s the promise I can’t keep. I’m sometimes haunted by the fact that there is always the possibility that something or someone–some circumstance–could rob me of seeing and knowing and experiencing his blessedness.

I could write this post 6000 times and never feel I’ve actually said it. I can never adequately express just how much the existence of this one human being has changed my life forever. It’s Little Drummer Boy only by virtue of the fact that I was a half a miniscule more accustomed to being turned inside out with Bug and Baby Girl, since they don’t bear the burden of being first. It’s true. Having children rocked my world.

Listening to Little Drummer Boy, it’s amazing to me how even being so brief in this world, he can recognize and sense a place of belonging–and that he wants it. The concern of separation from that place somehow made it’s way into his thoughts from who knows where. And, I must acknowledge that it makes its way into mine more often that I care to admit. When I look into their eyes, I realize without a hint of doubt that all three of my gifts scare me to death. And, in seeing them, I realize the strength of the white-knuckle grip I’ve had on my soul since their birth–frozen in fear that I would have to see them suffer and thus witness my own heart shredded beyond repair.

There. I said it. Out loud (virtually, speaking).

Though I’m not one to give in to fear, in the unflenching grip of the last four years, I’ve also realized that sometimes God scares me to death too. His power is too great to comprehend, and his giving and taking is too complex to predict. I’ve always had a strong sense of confidence in God’s purpose and plans, an ability to believe and trust His actions. But, in the last years of watching the most precious beings I’ve known walk around before me, I have found myself shying away from Him. Afraid that He might take them from me, as if they were mine to lose. I’ve gently shielded my heart from Him, as if that were possible. In that doomed shielding, I’ve resisted the rest found in knowing Him more intimately each day, the joy of yielding to the insistence of His presence. And, though I know in my mind that His love is pure and wise and good, releasing my soul to His full molding has been difficult.

With my Baby Girl now a one-year-old and the prospect of Little Drummer Boy going to “big school” a year from now, the last few weeks have been emotional. I’m realizing more and more each day the brevity of that time when they are so dependent on me. And with the shift to their own independence comes an ever-increasing confrontation with things beyond my control, things outside the walls forming my comfort level. I’ve been slowly, but surely, allowing my spirit to catch up with all the changes, the joys, and yes, the fears of the last four years. Little by little, I’m letting go of the strangle hold I’ve had on my own ability to take an unencumbered deep breath, and relinquishing my spirit again to the wooing of my Creator.  And my children’s Creator.

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine.” (isaiah 43:1)

I’m learning again that those words, “you’re mine” are the solution, not the source of fear. Just as saying “you’re mine” to Little Drummer Boy carries with it the full weight of everything I have to give, everything I am willing to give up, everything I would move, everything I would hold fast in order to ensure his abundance; so it is with God. In hearing the words “you’re Mine,” I can also hear “they’re Mine.” I am released to the blessed rest of His kind intention, the rest of His unfailing, unending and ever-active love.

In my fear I’ve come full circle, realizing that the only hope I have is to throw myself fully upon His love and mercy at each hour. And to throw myself fully into loving my gifts and experiencing them at every stage. To live each day, hour and moment without wishing I had.

Oh Happy Day 090409: Here’s to Being Small

Steps. Conversations. Babies (of all sizes). Opportunities. “Undaunted enthusiasm.” Getting unplugged. And, blue skies.
All of those showed up in my (almost) daily lists of 5 “thankful for” things this week. Oh happy day! They represent the birth of a friend’s child, my own baby turning one, my 2 1/2 year-old’s spontaneous dance moves, new and challenging work possibilities for Quiver and I, and September. As is so often the case, my gratitude this week has centered on the three gifts in my house that have so impacted our lives. With Baby Girl’s first birthday on Sunday, I spent the first of the week remembering her arrival a year ago and marveling at how quickly she’s grown.
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It was just about at that point in my train of thoughts about the week that I got the call from daycare this afternoon. One quick trip through football weekend traffic, a walk-in visit to the doctor and five prescriptions later, we’re a statistic. Yes, Baby Girl was diagnosed with the flu, likely H1N1. What’s happy about that?
No, it’s not exactly how I envisioned spending the Labor Day holiday. It’s not what I hoped for Baby Girl’s first full week as a one-year-old. No, this isn’t the post I wrote in my mind–the one about the joy of unplugging Kermit, my trusty laptop, and heading to the farm for a 3-day weekend under the brilliant blue September sky, three gifts, an armload of books and a few dumptrucks in tow. That one’s still in there, just put on hold for a little while. I didn’t want to misplace my gratitude attitude in just the first week of the Oh Happy Day Project, so I was forced to ask myself: Just what am I thankful for now?
Summed up, I’m thankful I live in a small town. I may not have a Gap within a 50-mile radius, but here’s what I do have. I can get to my daughter in 10 minutes–at 4:15 on the Friday afternoon before the first home college football game of the season. I can walk into the doctor’s office at 4:30 and actually see her although they don’t accept walk-ins after 4pm. My doctor remembers seeing Baby Girl just this Monday, as well as the medicines for croup she put her on. She also remembers the names of my other children as she writes them a preventative prescription for Tamiflu. Life in a small town means the owner of the pharmacy takes time to speak with Quiver about our prescriptions, which they are able to fill before closing. And, I’m not really surprised that we can also get a call at home–at 8pm–from the same owner making sure we don’t have any other questions. (Can you say locally owned and operated?) Then, there’s the maroon-clad boys who come running in after enjoying a day of “tailgating parties” at preschool. In a small town, happenings at the university matter to almost everyone, even 4-year-olds.  Of course, the one-hour wait for Friday night pizza delivery is really only 30 minutes. And, The Great Muppet Caper is (almost) always available at the public library to supplement our pizza picnic. Here’s to being small!
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Incidentally, good news… I’ve discovered that gratitude has a no cancellation policy. H1N1 may certainly have a wet blanket effect, but my daily “5 things” don’t lose their gratitude points because of it. As it turns out, I’m still quite thankful that Emily’s baby was born early and small, but strong. The Queen and I still had a great conversation about possible upcoming projects, proving synergy is alive and kicking. The Bug dance is still an undaunted show-stopper.  Quiver is still an incredibly good man. September still offers the promise of cooler weather and more brilliant skies. And though feverish, Baby Girl is still one and stepping out.
Oh Happy Day!

happyday090409

Steps. Conversations. Babies (of all sizes). Opportunities. “Undaunted enthusiasm.” Getting unplugged. And, blue skies.

All of those showed up in my (almost) daily lists of 5 “thankful for” things this week. Oh happy day! They represent the birth of a friend’s child, my own baby turning one, my 2 1/2 year-old’s spontaneous dance moves, new and challenging work possibilities for Quiver and I, and September. As is so often the case, my gratitude this week has centered on the three gifts in my house that have so impacted our lives. With Baby Girl’s first birthday on Sunday, I spent the first of the week remembering her arrival a year ago and marveling at how quickly she’s grown.

—————————

It was just about at that point in my train of thoughts about the week that I got the call from daycare this afternoon. One quick trip through football weekend traffic, a walk-in visit to the doctor and five prescriptions later, we’re a statistic. Yes, Baby Girl was diagnosed with the flu, likely H1N1. What’s happy about that?

No, it’s not exactly how I envisioned spending the Labor Day holiday. It’s not what I hoped for Baby Girl’s first full week as a one-year-old. No, this isn’t the post I wrote in my mind–the one about the joy of unplugging Kermit, my trusty laptop, and heading to the farm for a 3-day weekend under the brilliant blue September sky, three gifts, an armload of books and a few dumptrucks in tow. That one’s still in there, just put on hold for a little while. I didn’t want to misplace my gratitude attitude in just the first week of the Oh Happy Day Project, so I was forced to ask myself: Just what am I thankful for now?

Summed up, I’m thankful I live in a small town. I may not have a Gap within a 50-mile radius, but here’s what I do have. I can get to my daughter in 10 minutes–at 4:15 on the Friday afternoon before the first home college football game of the season. I can walk into the doctor’s office at 4:30 and actually see her although they don’t accept walk-ins after 4pm. My doctor remembers seeing Baby Girl just this Monday, as well as the medicines for croup she put her on. She also remembers the names of my other children as she writes them a preventative prescription for Tamiflu. Life in a small town means the owner of the pharmacy takes time to speak with Quiver about our prescriptions, which they are able to fill before closing. And, I’m not really surprised that we can also get a call at home–at 8pm–from the same owner making sure we don’t have any other questions. (Can you say locally owned and operated?) Then, there’s the maroon-clad boys who come running in after enjoying a day of “tailgating parties” at preschool. In a small town, happenings at the university matter to almost everyone, even 4-year-olds.  Of course, the one-hour wait for Friday night pizza delivery is really only 30 minutes. And, The Great Muppet Caper is (almost) always available at the public library to supplement our pizza picnic. Here’s to being small!

—————————

Incidentally, good news… I’ve discovered that gratitude has a no cancellation policy. H1N1 may certainly have a wet blanket effect, but my daily “5 things” don’t lose their gratitude points because of it. As it turns out, I’m still quite thankful that Emily’s baby was born early and small, but strong. The Queen and I still had a great conversation about possible upcoming projects, proving synergy is alive and kicking. The Bug dance is still an undaunted show-stopper.  September still offers the promise of cooler weather and more brilliant skies. And though feverish, Baby Girl is still one and stepping out.

Oh Happy Day!

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