Sunday, November 1, 2009

Growing up

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” It is a common question that leads to an entertaining conversation around our dinner table.

“I want to be a mommy and have ten babies when I grow up!”

“I want to be a car fixer!”

“I want to be a princess when I grow up.”

“When I grow up, I want to be Peter Pan!!!”

“I'm going to give spankings when I grow up.”

While we may occasionally get a glimpse into what is important to each child as they answer this question, more often we just get a good laugh. Children really cannot comprehend life that far in the future. As we all know, kids tend to think that life is going to stay just as it is right now, forever. Kids enjoy being kids, and if childhood were to last forever, well, that would be just fine really.

We try to help them overcome their focus on the present by asking questions about their hypothetical futures. We enjoy thinking about them 10, even 20 years into the future, with a job and maybe a family of their own. “What will life be like then?” we wonder, we cheerfully imagine.

Yet, for me at least, I only want to think just so far into the future, not too far, or I get uncomfortable. There is a certain point in the distant future that is quite hazy, and I am content to keep it that way. Those fuzzy areas contain those harsh realities of living in a fallen world: times of loss, of aging, and of dying.

Truth be told, when things are going well, I am a bit like my children. I am quite comfortable here in this world. If this mortal life were to go on forever... well, some days, that would be just fine with me.

Of course, I did not feel that way at all as I watched Aggie deteriorate from her brain tumor this summer. Nor did I feel that way when my husband went off to war. Times of trial open our eyes to those fuzzy areas of life, and as we walk through the valleys of the shadow of death, we pray, hope, and beg that this life will not last forever.

It will not. We know from looking around, and we know from God's word:

It will not always be this way.

Nine years ago my Grandma Lorraine was called home to be with the Lord. She was a mother of eight, grandmother of nineteen, and walked closely with her Lord. She came to our wedding with joy in 2000, upheld by Him though she was being treated for leukemia. A month later she was taken to be with Him. My children probably would have reminded her of her own rambunctious clan. They never got to meet her, but I am sure the would have loved her. We do not talk about her much anymore. I suspect I avoid it partly because just the mention of loved ones who have gone before remind me of this change that is coming, and it makes me uncomfortable.

It will not always be this way. They will love her when they get to know her.

As we celebrate All Saints Day this year we think of those who have gone on before us, who have undergone that final and perfect change. They have faced death and been made truly alive, freed forever from their sins. They are perfectly grown up: fully redeemed in Christ. As we follow behind them, we confidently hope we shall join them soon, in that place where change and tears have past.

Resist the devil, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered for a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:9-11

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Today's blessing

Seeing yourself through toddler eyes!

This is a picture Aggie drew of "mommy with her big fat tummy!"

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday is hard on a mother's heart (written in 2005)

Ash Wednesday is hard on a mother’s heart.
It is one thing to consider your own mortality. But I remember the first time the ashes were placed on my baby girl. Something inside me wanted to reach out and stop the pastor. My heart said No! That black stuff does not belong on my sweet little child. But the pastor put them there, and every time I looked at them I was surprised all over again.

Little Lorraine quickly forgot the ashes on her head, and had no understanding of why they were there in the first place. She smiled and flirted with me with her big brown eyes all during church, and I was struck by her cheerfulness in contrast to the portent of death on her forehead.
My children are mortal and I would rather not think about that. It is easier to pretend that life will keep going just as it is right now, to imagine that I will be here to comfort and love my babies forever. It is not hard to join the world’s denial of death. There are plenty of things to distract myself with, and when then thoughts come anyway, I can soothe myself by putting it so far in the future that it feels less threatening.

As adults, we know that the smooth skin on our babies will not stay perfect forever. We know that toddlers (and teenagers) are not invincible, even though they believe they are. Yet we are still shocked when they get the high fevers we cannot treat, when they do something dangerous (like eat glass!) and have to be rushed to the ER. We are shocked to be reminded that we live in the “valley of the shadow of death,” and that our children are vulnerable to this death just as much as we are.

God’s word intrudes into our comfortable little worlds to remind us of what we already know: this life is not going to last forever. It is easy to get caught up in training our children merely for life in this world. While it is a good thing to have a house that runs smoothly and children that are clean and relatively kind to each other, that is only a part of our vocation as parents.
This life is not going to last forever. We need to say this out loud to ourselves, and to our children. We must remember those ashes, and take to heart those ER trips. We must teach our children that they live in fragile bodies in a dangerous world, and remind them that their hope is in God alone. Every minute of this life is a complete gift from a Father who loves us more than we can imagine—a Father who plans to have us with Him in heaven forever. His grace frees us to live with joy in these mortal bodies. His love frees us to giggle like toddlers, even under the shadow of death.

Christ is Risen—He is Risen indeed.

As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass,
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting
the LORD's love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children's children-
Psalm 103:13-17

Sunday, February 22, 2009

To Aggie, my nap buddy

Aggie Sue, I love when you are my nap buddy. To see my little tornado relatively still and calm is a rare treat. I love the way you ask to hold my hand until you fall asleep.

Today you had a long seizure right before nap time that made you so tired you were asleep in my bed even before I laid the other kids down. I climbed in next to you anyway- I just wanted to be close to you. I held your little hand.

Like so many times before, I rested next to you and stroked your hair. My heart loved and ached, and my eyes were relieved to release a few tears that had been resting there all day. As I sighed over your raccoon eyes and I stroked your hair, I wondered where on that beautiful head they would cut should they have to do surgery. My spirit prayed fervently to the God who loves us both.

We laid there in the sunshine, you snored peacefully as I wrestled with my worries. The sun shone brightly even through the blinds, and soon I found myself relaxing into the quiet and warmth of the bed.

Aggie heading to Cleveland Clinic
I thank God for that moment, when you and I lay there in the sun, wrapped in warm blankets and love, enjoying a green pasture before our journey through the valley.

We have darkness to go through yet, my dear child. I am sure we will often hold hands through the darkness as we are doing now. I suspect we will get separated for some of it. I know we will be carried through all of it by Him who loves us both, the One who has been there before.

But for this sweet moment, we rest on our pillows that smell like home.

I wonder, after the days of valleys and darkness, will we be given moments like this again? Will we rest together, hold hands, and enjoy the warmth of each others love on pillows that smell like Home? Will we give goodnight kisses, smile, say I love you for the millionth time, in that Other place? Perhaps then the shadows of the valley will be distant memories. Perhaps the sun will be the Light of Christ, the light that chased away our fears and pain, and our “I love yous” will finally be sweet and pure and simple.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

If it isn't fun it won't get done!

It is official... flylady is a genius!

She says "If it isn't fun, it won't get done!" Well to me, 7 months pregnant, anything at all related to cleaning the floors or anything below my knees has become the opposite of fun. My dear husband put up some new WONDERFUL shelves in the basement to help me get organized, and after I had a ball doing that I realized the floors and especially the gym mats could use a good cleaning. SO, I thought, I have a few little people who live much closer to these dirty floors than I do, and they do not have to choke on baby feet or last night's dinner when they bend over.... how can I get them to help me?

Introducing.... SUMMER PLAY TIME! Today was a snow day (no school), so I told the kids we were going to pretend it was summer in our basement. They even got to wear their swimsuits to the "lake" (the blue gym mats). Of course, the lake needed water (warm soapy water) which they cheerfully scrubbed all over the mats. Then they pretended it was a SLIP N SLIDE for a long time. When they got tired of that I got out the scrub brush (which they FOUGHT OVER) and let them play "car wash!"

Meanwhile, my big belly and I sat on the couch laughing and taking pictures and video. All were happy, and work was getting done at the same time!  Oh, blessed, rare moment!
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