Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Fort

There's something about a boy (boys) and a fort.

The world is spinning fast. But they don't know. They've found someplace quiet. Someplace still. They've found a place where their only reality is what they make it.

It's a get-away world. A place for secrets and dreams. It's a place to share, too, hearts and time and adventures.

I stand and watch. An outsider.

But that's okay.

Because just standing here, just admiring them, makes my world more slow and lovely, too.

Thank you, Lord, for quiet places for boys to be just boys.

Monday, August 27, 2012

When the Sweet Art of Mothering Hurts

My friend and I stood on the patio while six boys, three hers, three mine, cried. Her family was moving. Far. And when it was time for them to go,when she reached for her boys and I reached for mine, I could see the hurt in her warm, brown eyes. The hurt of a mama whose children, right then, hurt deep. The hurt that presses hard when our children struggle and there's not a thing we can do.

Today Sam is sitting on the sofa. He's been to Sunday School. First week without his friend.  I sit next to him. Run my fingers through his wild blond hair. Pull him to my shoulder. Sam has a deep heart. And it's tough when that deep heart's full of sad.

"You okay?" I ask.

"I miss William," he says.

"I know," I say. And I do. I've seen this with my older boys. Over and over. Friends have moved to Texas. Iowa. Missouri. Michigan. And Will and his family are in Colorado now.

"Does it get better, Mom?" he asks.

I tell him that it does. That it takes some time. I tell him that I understand his loss. I miss our friends, too. Iron-sharpens-iron for Lonny and me.  Role models to our kids, too. This family - they brought something precious to our lives.

Sam looks at me and smiles. But the smile is weak. His pain breaks over my own heart.

What can I do when the sweet art of mothering hurts?

How do I help him when there's not an easy way out? When there's no way to bypass the loss? When there's only pushing straight through?

I don't know.

So I sit and hold my boy and allow him the feelings that will need to run free. And I whisper to the Lord. A plea for mercy and grace.

 And He is faithful.

 His Word comes clear. Sweet direction for our hearts.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6:6-7

What can I do?  Guide my son to love the Lord. Impress God's character on his heart. Teach him to seek the Lord's goodness. Not only in His commands, but in his kind mercy and grace.

On this day, I have the blessing of teaching my son. I can teach of the Lord's faithfulness. I can remind him of God's promise to never leave. He's near to the brokenhearted. He blesses the humble. He binds our wounds.  Our Lord  is a father of compassion and mercy. And all good gifts come from Him. I can teach Sam, too, of the privilege of prayer. That because of the blood of Jesus, he can go straight to the Lord. That he can carry Will's burden and lift him, too.

Teaching - all through the day.

Even a tough day.

Like today.

I hold Sam for a bit and then the bustle of the house comes close. I kiss Sam on the top of the head and thank God for the blessing.

For His coming close.

What do I do? When the sweet art of mothering hurts?

I turn to Him.

And I teach my son, my young man, to stretch and turn and know Him, too.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Prayer for Blessing on Their Work

It was a summer of first jobs. Samuel took care of a friend's dog. Grant cared for a friend's boys during the day and served ice cream at night.

It's a precious thing when others trust your children. Trust them enough to give them responsibility.

Now summer gives way to the routines of fall, and we're in a season of change. The jobs shift a little. The responsibilities, too. There will be school books and homework and tests. Time management and discipline and perseverance.

There will also be fun. And joy and laughter and play.

But there will be work.

And it comes to heart this morning, after I've delivered Grant to the high school and the other boys will soon be delivered to different days too, to pray for blessing on the boys' work. That their character would develop strong. That they would grow not only in knowledge but in wisdom, too. And that the Lord would hold them safe and cover them with life-giving grace.....

Father in Heaven,

Thank you for these boys. Thank you for the gift of their lives. For their hearts. For their passions. For their gifts and talents and minds and souls. Thank you for loving them.For holding them in your righteous right hand. For knowing the hairs on their heads and the beat of their hearts and for the work you've created in advance for them to do.

I pray that my boys would be diligent in their work. That they would find value in a job done well. I pray that they would do not only what's asked but that they'd stretch far and go the extra distance. I pray that they'd be honest, that they would persevere, that they would to their jobs to the best of their abilities.

And if they stumble, Lord, I pray  they'd accept your grace.

I ask that my boys would have hearts for serving and that they would value others.

But most of all, I pray that Logan, Grant,  Samuel,  Gabriel and Isaiah would know that whatever they're doing, whatever task or job or assignment, there's an opportunity to honor you.

In your sweet mercy and from the fullness of your grace, I ask for blessing on my boys' work.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Proposal

Zay and I are in the side garden. Pulling weeds. Watching the sky shift gray.

"The rain is comin'" I say.

 Zay smiles and plucks something that's tall and willowy and green.

I chase creeping charlie. Around the bush. Close to the house.

Then the drops come. Sweet and slow. The sky darkens. The wind picks up and rustles the leaves. There's a hint of fall, an edge of cool.

"Yep," Zay says. And he's busy again. Pulling weeds. Helping me. He's crouched low and I see the curve of his back, his small toes curled into soft dirt and what's left of the mulch.

The raindrops come faster. They're heavy and make small, dark stains on the back of his shirt.

"Let's go," I say. And suddenly we're dodging drops, running forward, hand in hand, around the porch, through the yard.

Then Zay stops. He's spied a dandelion, lone and tall. He grasps the very bottom of the stem. Pulls. Now it's clutched in his hand.

He straightens. Pushes his gift toward me. And smiles. "Will you marry me?" he asks.

The wind is whipping my hair and his shirt is billowing and we're now standing in the rain.

"Yes," I say.

I say this because he's five and we're together and a storm is rolling in. Soon he'll be too big for such things. Soon he'll have it all figured out. But today his heart is mine.

And I'm going to hold tight.

He hands me the dandelion, grabs my other hand, and we bolt to the house. The door closes behind us, and we're safe together inside.

Lord, thank you for the pure sweetness of a little boy's heart. Thank you, for that a short time, it's mine to hold.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Gentle Blessing - Days of Rest

I’m so grateful for days of rest.

When feet dip in water that is clear and cold.

And the ones we love are close.

And the sun rests like gold on my shoulders, and my spirit is warmed, too.

By His goodness.

By His love.

It's the gift of days that are far from deserved,

but in His grace, only His grace

are blessings of the most gentle kind.

Thank you, Lord, for a day like today….free from the pulls of life. Be with us as we return home...

Monday, August 6, 2012

Slow Stitches - Hemming Again

We’re in Michigan. On our boat. On our favorite lake. It’s familiar here. The variegated blues. The soft white sand. We come every summer. We have, since my belly was round with baby when our marriage was young and small.

But today the calm, deep blue seems ominous. It feels dark. Cold.

 Different than before, though the sun shines bright.

Two of the boys are on a tube, and Lonny is driving fast. The lake opens in a gash. It separates to a V and the water curls back, frothy and high. The boys skim over the water in the center of the V. I’m afraid they’ll come loose. I worry their arms will tire. That another boater won’t see them because it’s Sunday and the lake is dotted hard with boats bigger and faster than ours and who would see only the glimmer of two blond heads, bobbing in the water, if they’re thrown far?

We’ve done this a hundred times. It’s easy fun and now I’m the only one who frets. But since the cave, even the familiar presents potential harm. I don’t want to drown in this fear. I want thanksgiving to be the praise that lifts me out. But I’m stuck.

 Stuck in the mire.

I watch from the back of the boat. I grip the sides of my own seat, as if holding tight will keep them safe.

I’m sorry, God. I’m sorry I’m scared.

 And the reminder comes again. Soft as water laps at the sand. Bright as the sun that’s set in the blue. A gentle hemming. He goes before my children, and He goes behind them, too. And I’m right in the center, of His going before, His coming behind.

He’s hemming me in. Not condemning me, for being afraid, I know, because His reminders are merciful and kind. But he’s hemming. Them. Me.Into His care. With slow, sweet stitches. Making a promise, building a trust,

that I hope,

 in time,

 will become the faith-fabric of my life.

Lord, thank you for being merciful when I’m afraid. And thank you for surrounding me with your care. For the hemming. May it last as long as my days…

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Seeing Close

We’re bobbing. In our boat. And we’re all here. Seven in a small space. Feels like heaven to me. This lake. The sky. Lonny and the boys brown with summer and breathing sweet life.

Zay’s on my lap. He’s counting seagulls perched on posts. Suddenly he bolts from my lap and roots through my big, pink  bag.

“What’s up , Zay?” I ask. “What are you looking for?”

He’s shifting through goggles and apples and things stuffed in the bag. He extracts what he’s looking for. His binoculars. Small and black in a canvas case. In a quick moment they’re looped around his neck.

“I want to see,” he says. “I want to see close.”

He settles on a seat and lifts the binoculars to his eyes. I’m not sure if he’s still looking at the birds, or if it’s the sky, or the stretch of horizon or the clean, clear stripes of blue. But he’s appreciating something, this looking close. He doesn’t move, small hands on the cylinder, tanned fingers curled tight. I watch as he watches, and a slow, sweet smile stretches bright and wide across his face.

He’s in no hurry.

He’s looking close.

Suddenly I want to watch well, too. I want to see close. I notice Samuel at the bow, legs dangling over. His back is to me. Little boy muscles twine his arms. His hair is a half-dozen shades of blond. Grant is beside him, laughing deep. It’s easy here, without the pull of teenage things. Gabe’s now bobbing in the water, hair a shock of white. His goggles are too tight and silvery strands of that hair poke up in wild tufts. He pushes air far into his lungs and he’s under the surface, under fluid shades. Lonny and Logan jump overboard and begin to toss a Frisbee in shallow depths. They toss and chase and shout and I see beyond the physical to how smooth it is with them, Logan stretching past boyhood into a sort of friendship with his dad.

I uncurl my legs in the sun and I just look. A smile comes, too, for me.

I wish this day could last forever.

But days aren’t made that way.

Snapshots can, though, stay long in my heart.

If I take the time to look close.

Lord, open my eyes to your beauty. Please allow me to see close...