Thursday, January 27, 2011


Every night, before I leave the little boys’ room, I kiss their warm cheeks. “May angels watch over your sleeping heads.” Then I tuck the covers under their chins and quietly shut the door. It’s an eighteen-year-old blessing that’s natural as can be.

Last week I wasn’t feeling well. It had been a long day, and bedtime couldn’t come soon enough. Lonny and the boys headed upstairs for the nightly routine, and I slipped between the covers of my own bed. The room was quiet and still and dark, and I drifted off in no time at all.

I hadn’t been out for too long when I felt a warm whisper against my cheek. Then I felt a small hand on my forehead. Samuel. I kept my eyes closed, not wanting to interrupt something precious.

“Dear God. Please help Mom feel better. And let her rest well. And thank you that tomorrow will be a new, fresh day.”


Then I heard his footfalls head toward the door – soft slippers on hardwood.

But Samuel wasn’t finished because he stopped, turned around, and revisited my bedside. He bent and brushed his sweet lips against my cheek. Another whisper. “May angels watch over your sleeping head.” Then he was gone.

I snuggled deeper into the blankets and smiled. As for the angels watching over my sleeping head?

One already had.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Little Boy Days

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Annie Dillard

“Mom, my tooth fell out!” Gabe charged into the kitchen. A tiny, grey pebble-of-a-tooth lay in his palm. “Can you believe it? It’s O-U-T!”

He smiled. There was a wide, fresh gap where the tooth had been. Cute. Darn cute.

“Gabe, that’s so cool! May I see?”

“Sure, but don’t lose it. It may be worth a dollar.”

He dropped the tooth into my hand. It was strange, that little tooth. Gabe had taken a header from our bed when he was one. That tiny little incisor caused some damage. Stitches. A trip to the oral surgeon. When the doctor pushed it back up into Baby Gabe’s gum line, we expected it to stay put for only a few months. That was a few years ago.

“There’s just one problem,” Gabe said, as he paced the kitchen floor.

“What’s that?”

“I can’t be Captain Black Tooth anymore.” Suddenly his toothless grin disappeared. Sadness had stolen his little-boy smile.

“Oh,” I said. He was right. It hardly seemed to fit. And we’d spent a hundred hours sailing the bedroom seas under his command.

“Unless,” he said. “Unless, I can the coolest pirate ever!” He jumped up and down. “And I know who I’ll be,” he said.


“Captain Ghost Tooth, of course!”

Of course.

And Captian Ghost Tooth was off. To find his brothers. To share the new name. To plunk the tooth in a Ziploc baggie and slide it under his pillow.

I stood for a moment and watched him go. Missing Cap’n Black Tooth a little.

But looking forward to the adventures of Captain Ghost Tooth, too.

Thank you, Lord, for the days I’ve had to teach, train, and enjoy my sons. They’ve blended into a wonderful, wonderful life.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Eye Thing (Part Two): Tender Mercies

"Mom, I’m scared.”

Grant’s voice surprised me. He’d been huddled on the sofa for two days, cocooned in the down comforter from his bed. Still. Quiet. Not normal for my son.

I dropped a super-size stack of jeans on a nearby chair and sat down. “What are you scared of, Grant? Can you tell me?”

“I’m scared that I won’t be able to see, Mom,” he said. “How will I drive a car? Or play sports? Or read, with just one eye?” he asked. “It hurts. It’s not getting better.”

Truth was, I was worried, too. Grant had a corneal abrasion. The emergency room doctor told us his vision would improve in a day or so. Yet Grant was still on the sofa. The light made his eye water, his head hurt like mad, and his vision remained a hazy blur.

We'd called an ophthalmologist and scheduled an appointment for Monday.But it hurt to see him hurt.

I pulled the comforter back and ran my hands over Grant's thick hair. The area around his eye was puffy, soft, and purple.

“May I pray for you, Grant?” I asked.

“Yeah, Mom,” he said. “Will you pray?”

I put my arms around Grant and prayed. Silently. Out loud. I prayed for healing and restoration. For his emotion and future. For God's provision and peace. When I finished, I sat beside Grant, while he drifted off to sleep. I’d forgotten how his lashes made a dark, thick arc when his eyes closed. How his hand settled under the curve of his jaw when he slept. I admired his peace - a rare moment of not striving to prove or accomplish or become.

Then, I covered Grant with an afghan from the closet, kissed his forehead, and quietly shut the door.

The next morning, Grant emerged from his couch cocoon.I heard him before I saw him, and I knew that things had improved.

 "Hey, Mom," he called from the stairs. "It's better today!" He bounded into the kitchen, hair standing in wild tufts.

 "Yeah, well you still look like you've been in a fight," I teased.

"Really, Mom?" he asked. Then he smiled. Big. "Hey, do I look like I won?"

 My boy was back. Sweet relief. Welcome home.

Things continued to get better for Grant. On Monday, the doctor reported that he was healing. A week away from the court, and he'd be good as new.

As for me, I was in awe of God's goodness. Not only had He healed Grant, but He'd taken a tough situation and brought blessing for me, too. The opportunity to pray for my teen. To hold him close. To quietly meet his needs.

Isn't that just like our Father?

Churning out tender mercies for a Mama and her son.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Eye Thing (Part One): Letting Go

I didn’t see the shot because Zay sent a cascade of Skittles down the bleachers. But when I looked up, Grant was injured, bent over, hand over his eye. Then he stretched upright and stood under the basket, shoulders rigid and tight.

“What happened?” I asked Dad.

“Jabbed in the eye, blocking a shot.”


Grant walked to the bench as the crowd clapped. Then he sat down. But he continued to press his palm into his eye. His face turned a deep shade of red. When he dropped his head downward, I knew he was in pain.

“I’m going over,” I said. The game had resumed, but I could walk around the court, to the other side of the gym.

“No,” Dad said. “Better wait.”

The coach knelt beside Grant, pushed his head back, and peered into his eye. They exchanged a few words and the coach went back to coaching. Grant pulled his water bottle from under the bench and pressed it to his face.

“He’s not okay. I know. I’m going over,” I said.

Dad put his hand on my knee. His gesture spoke silent words. In sixth grade, during football, Grant made a tackle. An opponent landed on him, and his arm snapped. I learned, from that experience, that junior high boys do not want Mom hovering.

But it was instinct – to want to run over. To care for my child.

I pushed my back against the wall. Kept my eyes on my son. Prayed. At one point, my two eyes connected with Grant’s good one. There was something there. A little boy look. But he was a six-foot-something guy. A junior high guy. And junior high was all about being cool. Fitting in. Looking good. Being tough.

I didn’t fit, at that moment, into the plan.

Grant didn’t watch the rest of the quarter. He looked down. He stayed on his bench, and I stayed on mine.

At half-time, I walked across the court to care for my son. Much later than I wanted.

But sometimes loving means letting go.

Even if it's one quarter at a time.

Help me, Father, to know when to rush forward and when to hold back. Give me wisdom as I raise my teens.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Steppin' Back

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. John 3:8

Samuel wanted to be baptized. When Pastor shared that there’d be a baptism service on December 26th, Samuel reached over and took my hand. His green eyes sparkled and he had a hard time sitting still for the rest of Sunday service.

He talked all the way home. “I can’t wait. I’ve wanted this for so long. I get to tell everyone how much I love Jesus. And I’ll talk about the day. The day I asked Jesus to save me.”

I was thrilled for Samuel’s decision. But my mind immediately went into Martha-mode. The day after Christmas? The house would be a wreck. I’d want to have a brunch. But how could I find time to prepare the food? I could get bagels. But it would be noon. We’d need more than a bagel at noon.

Later in the day, I decided to talk with Samuel. Perhaps suggest another time. There’d be another opportunity soon.

“Hey, Sam,” I said. “I’m so happy that you want to be baptized. It’s an awesome thing, to follow Jesus’ example. And to tell others how much you love him.”

“I’m so excited, Mom.”

“I was thinking, though, Samuel, that maybe another day would be better. Some of our special people will have plans the day after Christmas. Some will be out of town.”

“Well,” he said. “I know, Mom. I figured God will work that out.”

“Well, Samuel. It’s just that I’d like to give you a nice brunch. You know, with quiches and fruit. It’ll be hard to do that, right after Christmas.”

“It’s okay, Mom . We don’t need food.” Then he pushed himself into my arms and squeezed. “And isn’t it awesome, Mom, that I can do this the day after Jesus’ birthday?” He looked up. “I can’t think of a better time. Can you?”

I looked at my little blond guy. Samuel. My I-asked-God-for-you boy. He had his mind on spiritual things, and I had my mind on everything else. The Spirit was moving in His life, and I needed to step out of the way. With my worries and concerns. With my bagels and eggs.

I held Sam for a few minutes, and when he pulled away I whispered in his ear. “No, Sam,” I said. “I sure can’t.”

Lord, thank you for your Spirit. Thank you for moving in Samuel’s life. And never, ever allow me to stand in the way.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Iron Men

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

“Come on in,” Logan called.

Luke, Logan’s long-time friend, stomped his boots and entered the kitchen.

“Good to see you,” Logan said. He cuffed Luke on the back.

Luke smiled. “You, too.”

It was strange, watching the two greet one another as “big guys”. It hadn’t been that long since they’d seen one another, but a lot had happened. They’d both just finished their first semesters of college.

I talked with the two of them for a minute, then they left. Up the stairs. To the family room. Like old times. Later in the afternoon, when I carried a stack of towels to the boys’ bath, I was moved by the scene. Logan and Luke, playing a video game, sprawled over the floor, talking, completely comfortable, looking twelve- years- old again.

They sure have grown. Doesn’t seem that long ago that they wielded wands and pulled sponge rabbits from black hats. Or ran around the yard, clad in capes, as Aragorn and Gandalf. Now they were nearly adults.

I am grateful for the relationship that Luke and Logan have. It’s been a source of strength for my son. It’s been accountability. Prayer support. Laughter. Fun. Acceptance. Logan is a better man because Luke has been his friend.

God’s word tells us that as iron sharpens iron, people sharpen one another.

I’ve seen that truth lived out – in the lives of these two young iron men.

Lord, thank you for this friendship. It’s been a gift to my son. And thank you for the relationships you’ve brought my younger sons, too. May they continue to grow for your purpose and plan.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


“What are you doing?” I asked.

Zay stalked around the kitchen. He pushed himself against the side of the fridge and whispered. “Huntin’ monkeys.”

I noticed the pop gun at his side (Christmas gift from a friend). “What are you going to do with that?”

“Shoot the monkey.”

Oh. Years ago I would’ve launched into a lecture about how monkeys belong to God and it’s not our right to shoot them. But this time I decided to play along. We were talking about imaginary monkeys, after all. “I think I saw one. A big one. In the dining room.”

“No,” he said. “It’s in there.” He pointed to the school room.

“Well how do you know?”

“Because that’s where I put him.”

What? I thought it was time to investigate. I walked into the school room and Zay followed. On his belly. Combat crawl.

“Stop!” Zay yelled. “There he is!”


Isaiah jabbed a finger toward the coat tree. I didn’t see a monkey. Then I looked closer. Mr. Socks, the sock monkey Zay had been given for Christmas, was suspended from a hook. His wide, red smile poked out from parkas and faux fur.

“Zay,” I said. “That’s your sweet sock monkey. He’s meant to be loved and held and cared for and hugged. Not shot at.”

“Well I’m gonna get him.”

I was baffled. The boys all had sock monkeys. They were tattered and torn, one-eyed, tails attached and reattached a hundred times – all from good lovin’. Why would Zay, my Gentle Ben, be hunting his monkey down in cold stuffed primate blood?

I released Mr. Socks from the tree. Then I settled into the nearby loveseat and pulled my son to my lap. I was about to resurrect that lecture about honoring God’s creation when Zay surprised me again. He cradled Mr. Socks in his arms. Smothered that monkey head with a dozen kisses. Whispered sweet nothings in Socks’ stuffed ears.

Go figure.

There’s a lot I don’t get about boys. Maybe God hardwired them as hunters – to provide for and protect their families. Maybe it’s some God-given drive to conquer. I don’t know.

I’ll never have all the answers. The best I can do is love my boys – puzzling constitution and all.

Even when it involves a sock monkey safari.

Monday, January 3, 2011

More Blessed

I was stressed. Lord, multiply my time! Five days ‘til Christmas and I ran like mad. Here and there. This and that. Christmas cards. Baking. At least my shopping was complete. Or so I thought.

“Mom,” Gabriel said. “I still have to shop for the brothers. When will we go out?”

I looked at my tiny son, perched on the old stool in the kitchen. He smiled big. No bottom teeth. Hard to say “no” to.

“Gosh, Gabe. I forgot all about your shopping,” I said. I was December-crazy and the thought of the stores made me itchy. “Tell you what? Dad and I have some nice things for everyone. Why don’t we put your name on some of the gifts for the brothers? Those can be from you.”

Gabe’s round eyes got rounder. “But I have dollars. Of my own.”

My mind scrambled for a time that we could shoot into town. I came up blank.

“Let’s see what happens. We’ll do our best, okay?”


Gabe must’ve offered little-boy prayers because God provided time that afternoon. Lonny came home early, and Zay crashed on the living room floor. Gabe and I seized the moment and bolted for the bull’s eye – Target. I added a few bucks to the dollar bills wadded in the pockets of his Levis, and Gabe was in heaven with gifts for all – a spatula for Dad’s Saturday eggs, Grinch pencils for Logan, Storm Trooper action guy for Zay….

Two hours later our red van returned to the garage. I did a mental scroll-down of the two-hundred things I needed to accomplish. But as Gabe and I trudged through the snow to the backdoor, he reached for my hand. “I love the presents, Mom. How ‘bout tonight we wrap?” His grin was wide.

For a split second, I went into panic mode – there was so much to do. I had little time and now my guy asked for more.

Then I looked down at Gabe as he clutched his precious little red bag of gifts. He didn’t have a lot. But what he had – he shared. And the blessing was his. Maybe it was the same with time?

Gabe and I did wrap his gifts that night. We didn’t really need the cookies. The cards were put on hold. But I held the wrapping paper while Gabe used the scissors. I watched him print his name, in kindergarten scrawl, on the tags.

Gabe knew what Jesus meant when he said it’s more blessed to give than to receive. And thanks to my little blond fellow, I remembered, too.