Monday, February 27, 2012

Beautiful, Fresh Slate

I wake early. Stand at the window. Pull the soft strings of my robe tight.

There's a covering of snow. Rich and deep and vast and smooth. The world, from my window, seems quiet.



It's a pace I can handle.



Branches hold soft layers. Bend low. Sweep the ground.

And Sam stands beside me, his robe tight, too. His arm curves around my middle, and I pull him in. A smile spreads, slow and sweet. Warm and soft as morning sun.

There's clatter behind us. Creeks from the stairs.

Brothers come ready to greet the new day.

There will be mittens and boots. Sleds and scarves. Cocoa and snowmen and cheeks gone red.

But I hold Samuel, for just a moment, while life outside the window is still.

Still as Sam.

Still as me.

Then I breathe deep.

Make ready.

Look behind and glance ahead.

Today is a beautiful, fresh slate.

And I'm blessed to be right here.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mr. Grant At the Wheel - Faith Grows Bigger

The phone rang as we were finishing math. I let the machine pick up.

"Hey, Shawnelle. It's Tammy. I'm driving down Hwy 84, behind the driver's ed car," she said. "Logan's driving. Call him and tell him to Step. On. It!"

I heard my girlfriend's light-hearted laughter. I laughed, too.

That was four years ago. And Logan is still a cautious, careful driver.

But I'm no longer laughing.

I took our second son for his driver's permit on Saturday.

Mr. Grant is at the wheel.

Grant is lively. And fast. A fast thinker. A fast mover. He gulps life a mile a minute.

And I know when my friend is trailing the driver's ed car, she won't be calling  to tell my son to drive faster.

I'm not comfortable. Not one bit.

But we'll teach. We'll train. We'll pray like mad and allow him freedom as he proves himself worthy.

And most important, we'll trust.

It's spiritual hand-over, really. I'd prefer for my son to stay on two wheels. But he's growing.


And it's time.

So as I hand my son the keys, I'll hand him over to the Lord.

Father, please keep him safe. Keep him strong. Give him wisdom and discernment and a respect for this responsibility.

And once again, as I marvel at how my sons are changing, I understand that

as my boys stretch and grow, my faith must grow, too.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Michigan Cherries

I'm folding fresh laundry, soft and sweet, praying for the child who will fill the T-shirts, sports pants and fleece pajamas. I pull Gabe's favorite shirt from the still-warm tumble. It's made of white nylon. A basketball shirt. Like Grant's.

And it takes me back to summer.

Back to Michigan.

Back to a picnic on Grand Traverse Bay.

"Don't wear that shirt," Lonny had said, in the morning, as the boys tugged on their clothes. "We're stopping for Michigan cherries and your shirt won't survive."

But Gabe hadn't listened. He'd wanted to wear the shirt.

The lure was strong.

So we found our spot in the sun that day. The water glistened. The breeze rumpled our blanket. The boys ran along the beach, laughing and and pressing their toes in the sand. I unloaded our basket. We sat down to lunch.

And Gabe delved in to the fresh-from-the-stand cherries. They were ripe and sweet. Juice rolled down small, tan arms in rich rivers

and spattered his very best shirt.

Deep, dark stains that wouldn't come clean.

When he saw the stains, Gabe's eyes went wide. They pooled deep with tears.

And he looked down, broken and sad and ashamed.

"It's ruined," he said.

Repentance and regret. In little-boy sobs.

After lunch, Lonny pulled the GPS from under the seat. "We'll look for the store," he said. "To get Gabe another shirt."

Child centered, I thought. To drive around, van to-the-hilt with brothers, to spend this time, chasing a store and a shirt.

But today, as I fold that memory to a tidy square, running my fingers over warm fabric that's fresh and clean and white, I have a small understanding of

a father's love

and I understand  that sometimes

 a father goes to any length

to remove the sin-stain of his child.

Thank you, Father, for the love offering I'll never fully understand. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me from my sin and stains.

"Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." Isaiah 1:18

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sometimes Love Looks Tender

The kids are asleep and it's Movie Night. Lonny and I hunker under the covers. His body curls around mine, arm draped around and over. Just like always. For twenty-some years.

The movie begins. The plot is strong. I try, really try, to stay awake. But there's warmth and soft and Lonny's even, deep breath. There's a week of weary, from Lonny's travel, and the boys were mine, all mine.

I'm lulled. Pulled deep.

And the drifting is sweet.

I wake later, when music from the credits billows through room. Movie Night is over. And I've missed it. The movie. The togetherness.

Our time.

I've missed it all.

"I'm sorry," I say, quiet and foggy and dim from sleep.

Lonny stands over, gently tugs my glasses. Folds them carefully. Sets them on the table beside the bed. Then he smiles, soft and strong.

And this tenderness breaks me.

Sometimes love is in the most simple gestures.

My husband leans forward, to brush his lips over my cheek, to whisper "goodnight", and I'm lost, drifting again.

But I know that Movie Night is over

and I haven't missed a thing.

Happy Valentine's Day, Sweet Friends.....


Writing News: An excerpt from my story "Midnight Grace", Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love, is in Feb. 20 issue of Woman's World (in stores now). Thank you, God!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

For the Dance

Silence fills the house. Even the corners.
It's time for bed and Zay is sleepy.

His hand is wrapped in mine, small and warm, the perfect fit. We walk that way, connected, toward the stairs.

I look down at my son, blond head tousled even before sleep. Jammies passed down from more than one brother. Mine-O-Mine pooled on the floor.

And I'm compelled to lift him. While he still fits in the cradle of my arms.

He wraps around me. Arms gently loop my neck. Heart presses easy into mine. His head nuzzles my shoulder,

and we are at peace.

We dance that way for a moment. Soft and slow. My son and me. While the house is still. While dark presses in like fog.

To music only we can hear.

And I'm grateful. For the scent of childhood. For sweet, even breath. For the warmth of love and touch and joy and peace.

Thank you, Lord, for the dance.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Hurts Me More

I stand between two boys. Wild tears flow down cheeks. One son holds a torn comic book. The other holds an attitude. Crossed arms hard and eyes cast down give him away.

"Son, did you really tear your brother's comic book?"

His answer is straight. "Yes."


"I was angry."

"Is that an appropriate way to handle anger?"


"Well, what's the right thing to do?"


Oh, Sweet Son, the right thing will be hard.

I wish that I could call the incident isolated. But I couldn't. Earlier this week, there had been something else. So here we are. Talking of honoring others and honoring God and handling our emotions in an appropriate way.

Talking torn comics and torn hearts and torn relationships.

And there will be repentance. Forgiveness.

But there's still restitution.

A strong, strong word.

It's our goal to raise righteous men. Men who will make mistakes (thank you, Jesus, for sweet, sweet grace). But men who will make things right when they do.

Men who will admit when they've been wrong.

Men who will set things straight.

And for my little son, that means buying a new comic book.

So we stand, in the store, a day later. The book is on the belt, and my little guy pays the price. He pulls  on the brown leather wallet in his pocket. Wriggles it hard to break it loose. Stretches it open with still-small hands. Extracts the five dollars he'd gotten for Christmas.

And he lays his money down.

I think of an old show, black and white, some child about to receive discipline and the torn parent hovering, wringing hands above,  saying "This is gonna hurt me more than it hurts you..."

So true.

I think about this, as my son slides the wallet back to his pocket. Then he takes the white, plastic bag, loops it over his small, straight wrist.

And we leave the store.

But the price strikes my own heart.

We hurt when our kids fall.

But it's possible, I believe, that we hurt even more

when we help them to stand.

Lord, give me wisdom as I raise my sons. Be with this little boy's heart. Help him to be a man who will make good choices and who will honor You with his actions when he needs grace. And help me to hold him accountable to a standard. A standard of high calling that would bring You glory and draw others to Your Name.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

When It's Sad - Walking Into the Sun

January sun pressed gold stripes on our schoolroom floor. I looked out the window. Perfect day for a walk.

But taking a walk would be difficult. Painful. For the past month, we'd taken walks with our newly adopted Greyhound, Turbo Paulo.

And we'd returned Paulo to the adoption center on Sunday. There were things we weren't able to work through. The fit was not right. The sweet times were very sweet, and Paulo had potential miles long. But holding him tight wasn't the best thing.

Not for him.
Not for us.

And the loss carved a hole in our home.

Gabe dreamed of scratching Paulo's ears. Sam thought he heard Paulo sigh. Zay prayed, hands clasped until his tiny knuckles turned white, for a forever family for our Paulo.

And I didn't want to take a walk.

It hurt like mad to let Paulo go.

Sometimes right things cut hard and deep and bright dreams color dark.

"It's a nice day," Gabe said, following my gaze. Sun shone bright on stark patches of snow. "Maybe we can go outside? After lunch?"

"Maybe," I said. I ran my fingers through Gabe's angel-soft hair. His head tipped down.

I tried to make spiritual sense of the tangled mess. We'd prayed. Chosen carefully. Prepared our home. But what I thought was a blessing  turned bad. And I couldn't shield the kids from the hurt. From the empty. From the loss.

What do you do when it doesn't make sense? When there's hurt instead of joy? When Mama can't erase the sadness or quick- fix wounded hearts?

Trust in what we cannot see.

Trust in the Lord whose ways are above our ways. Trust that He's promised to be with us and and He'll never, ever leave. Trust that He longs to bless us, and there are blessings we cannot see or understand. Trust that He hears our prayers. Trust that He's  merciful to mamas and boys and beautiful dogs, too.

Then grab warm jackets to keep out the cold, step past the wicker basket that used to hold the leash, take the sweet hands of those you love, hold on ever-so tight,

and walk, together, into the sun.

Sweet truth to claim:
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep. O Lord you preserve both man and beast. Psalm 36:6

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9

The Lord is compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. Psalm 145:8

Note: It's likely that Paulo will go home with another family this weekend. The kind, wise people at the adoption center are graciously working with us to find just the right dog for our family, too.