Monday, May 30, 2011

His Name is Wonderful

Dad gave me a cd. It’s an instrumental. Southern Gospel. The gentle guitar is symbolic to my childhood. Music came on vinyl records or tapes back then, and I grew up to the sweet sounds. The songs will have meaning to my boys, too. Dad’s cd plays softly in our school room. It’s a strong and steady backdrop for the learning that happens there.

My favorite song is His Name is Wonderful, written by Audrey Mieir (1955). Though the music is generally contained to our school room, the chorus stays with me all day long. It twines through my days, often finding its way into the smallest, most simple circumstances:

When the boys love one another well, His name is Wonderful

When the boys forget to love one another well, His name is Wonderful

When my boys succeed, His name is Wonderful

When my boys feel that they haven’t found success, His name is Wonderful

When there are skinned knees or bruised hearts, His name is Wonderful

When there is healing, His name is Wonderful

When my boys laugh, His name is Wonderful

When my boys cry, His name is Wonderful

When there is happiness, His name is Wonderful

When there is not, His name is Wonderful

When we look forward, His name is Wonderful

When we glance back, His name is Wonderful.

He is the Mighty King

Master of Everything

His Name is Wonderful

Jesus My Lord.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

House Chicken (It's About Love)

Isaiah’s voice shot from the backseat. From the rearview mirror, I could see that his little palm was pressed flat against the van window.

“It’s House Chicken! Right there!” he yelled. “It’s House Chicken!”

We were driving through one of the tiny towns that dot the Mississippi River. Zay had seen a café, striped awning and baskets of geraniums fresh and bright in the sun. Of course, the little restaurant isn’t called House Chicken. But that’s what Isaiah had to eat one day last summer when Lonny took him out for lunch.

It had been a thick, heavy, sultry Saturday. Logan and Grant were off doing teen stuff. Samuel and Gabriel were with a friend. Only Zay was home with us. I had plenty of writing to do, so that left two guys rattling around.

“Zay,” Lonny said. “Would you like to go out for lunch with me? Just the two of us?”

“Me?” Zay asked. “YES!” He made a mad dash to the backdoor to push his little feet into little blue Crocs.

He returned just a minute later. “Ready! I’m ready!” he said.  “Let’s go!” He galloped around the kitchen. His happiness couldn’t be contained.

That day was almost a year ago. But Zay remembers. He not only remembers, but the sight of Mississippi Café’ brings great joy. Visible, expressive, shout-from-the-backseat joy.

As we drove past the café,’ I was reminded of how important it is to pull the boys away from the pack, to share some one-on-one. Time to listen to their hearts. Time to let them feel like they’re the only one in your world. It doesn’t take a lot to fill a boy’s love tank.

It’s not about House Chicken.

It’s about love.

Lord, may our boys always know how much we love them. May they always know how much You love them.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Broken Banks and Beyond

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. Proverbs 17:17

Samuel wanted a piggy bank the moment he saw them, side-belly-to-side-belly, on display at Target. They were black, matte finish, with dotty white eyes. Perfect for the shelf he made at Cub Scouts. Perfect to hold coins and bills from tooth fairies and birthdays.

The piggy bank appeared in Samuel’s Easter basket, peering over a jumble of Cadbury eggs and jelly beans.

Sam was elated. He pulled the bank from the basket. Danced around the living room. Shouted “HOORAH!”  Then dropped the bank on the hardwood floor.
The bank shattered. So did Sam’s smile. He tried to handle his emotion with nine-year-old-boy bravery (gulp, breathe deep, bite your lip and try not to cry). But he didn’t have to try for long because Gabe, whose basket also held a bank, came to the rescue.
“Here, Sam,” Gabe said as he pushed his own smiling pig toward his brother. “You take mine. You really wanted a piggy bank.”
It’s not always like that. The boys don’t always react from merciful, benevolent  places deep in their hearts. But when they do, it’s sweet. Very, very, mighty sweet.
It’s my prayer for my sons that as they grow they'll continue to “cover” one another. That they’ll have one another’s backs. That they’ll care for one another and provide for one another and love one another well, even when it means making a sacrifice.
It’s my prayer that they’d be not only blood brothers, but Christian brothers.
Today and tomorrow.
Broken banks and beyond.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Praying Friends

A brood of boys bounced, tumbled, flipped, and flopped on our trampoline. It was the first warm, warm day of spring, and the energy level of my three little guys and their two friends was sky-high.

“Watch me, Mom!” Samuel called.
“Miss Shawnelle, watch this!” beckoned his friend.
Gabe’s cry was different. “Mom, something’s wrong with my eye.” And while the other little guys continued to somersault and karate chop on the tramp, Gabe dangled his legs over the side until his toes touched ground, dropped, and shuffled across the lawn.
By the time he got to me, his eye was red. Swollen. Irritated.
“Gabe, what did you do?”
“I don’t know,” he said. And he started to cry. Bawl. Wail. My never-let-them-see-you-cry Gabe let loose.
I thought the tears were good, to wash out whatever was in there. But a moment later, when I lifted his head from my chest, I was shocked. The white of his eye was bulging and there was a thick, pink, fleshy rim that looked like it had been inflated with a pump.
“I’d better call Daddy,” I said. “We’ll get you to the doctor.”
Lonny was at the library, just a block away. I comforted Gabe while we waited, rocking him back and forth, rubbing small circles on his back. When his pain increased, I stopped rocking, put my hand on his back, closed my eyes and began to pray.
A moment later I felt a little hand, warm and soft, on top of mine.

I opened my eyes to find Gabe’s friend. His eyes were closed and his mouth moved in sweet, silent prayer. He’d noticed me praying, left the trampoline, and came to pray for his friend.
I didn’t know when I’d been so blessed.

Later that evening, when Gabe was in bed, eyes slathered with a steroid to counter an allergic reaction to who-knows-what, my heart was filled with gratitude.
Thank you, Lord, that Gabe is safe. Thank you that his vision is okay. Thank you for the optometrist who made yet another Eliasen-late-night-emergency-eye call.

And thank you, Lord for our little praying friend.
Lord, may each of my boys always have praying friends. And may each boy always be a praying friend.

Monday, May 9, 2011

God's Reply

I’d been down. Drained. Depleted. Dry.
“Please, Lord, refresh my spirit. Renew my heart for mothering.”
The answer came soft and gentle, in a child’s hand-made card.
It blessed me, the way He answered.
A treasure.
God’s reply.

Dear Mom,

Thank you for always being there
for us.
The world has some naughty things, but in a storm
when we are lost and do not know
where to go you fly in like a
super-hero and like the sun you
you break the clouds allowing us
to see all the good things in life.
You teach us to know right from wrong, and follow
the Lord’s commands. Every day you teach us
and every day we learn.  Every day the first
face I see when I wake up is the face
that starts the perfect day even when
I’m sick and that face belongs to you.
Every day I’m fooled by how beautiful
you are when I wake and see you
I think “is that an angel in the kitchen”.
But when I see your smile and
the most loving spirit a boy could
ever see I know its something better than
an angel its my mom.

Love, Samuel

Oh Lord, You hear the deep places of a mother’s heart and answer with tender replies. I love you. Thank you. Amen.
Mother’s Day Giveaways:

Thanks so much, sweet friends, for the kind comments.
Isaiah pulled these names from his baseball cap: Cindy Herlyn (Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Mothers) and Heather Chervenka (Chicken Soup for the Soul: New Moms). Cindy and Heather, will you please send your mailing address via e-mail (click above)? I’ll get your books right out!
Thanks again, everyone. I hope you all had a wonderful, wonderful day.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Mama's Touch

Mom and I sat at her kitchen table. We were talking about this-and-that when she reached and out touched my hand for emphasis.

“Oh, Darlin, your hands are dry,” she said. Then, while she finished her story, she walked to the cupboard, extracted a bottle of lotion, gave two quick pumps and slathered my cracked hands. No break in conversation. No distraction. Just Mama talking a mile- a-minute while silently blessing me with the unspoken words of personal touch.

The gesture was precious to me. Small. Simple. But it was a home-run hit to my heart.

My mom has an innate way about her. She’s a toucher. In fact, I come from a long line of touchers. My Mamo always held my hand while talking. My mom remembers her grandmother’s sweet touches. Appropriate physical touch makes an impact.

In How to Really Love Your Child (one of my parenting faves), Dr. Ross Campbell devotes a chapter to the importance of touching our children. It’s an easy way to convey love. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. Maybe a touch on the shoulder or rumpling a boy’s hair. But those touches speak volumes.

I’m sure that my Mama didn’t read Dr. Campbell’s book. The first copyright was 1977. Love naturally flows from Mom's hands to the hearts around her. She has a gift, a God-given wisdom or way that’s blessed me for years and blesses me still.

There’s nothing in the world like a Mama’s touch.

Lord, remind me to bless my boys with appropriate touch. It’s so easy when they’re sweet and small. It’s a little harder when they’re teens. And thank you for my wise, warm Mother, who loves and teaches me in a thousand wonderful ways.

For Mother’s Day, I’d like to share a copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Mothers (“Crazy Normal”, a devotion about our porch swing blessing, is included) and a copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul: New Moms (“Sea of Mother Love” and “In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb”).

Just click on “comments” below and leave your name. Then Isaiah, in our high-tech way, will pull names from his baseball cap.
Thank you, Precious Friends, for your love and support. You are a blessing.

Have A Wonderful, Wonderful Mother’s Day.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sweet Baby Zay

Isaiah was born on a season's best spring day.

“He tiny,” Gabe said.
“He’s got Papo’s chin,” Nana said.

“You got your point guard,” Dr. Corpuz said.

Lonny and I just said thank you. Thank you God for this son. Thank you for the blessing. Thank you for his health and his life and for the sweetness of calling him our own.
Four years later we’re still saying thank you. It’s an honor to hold Isaiah’s heart.