Thursday, November 29, 2012

(Not So) Small Gesture - I'll Stay Right Here

Grant and I are shopping, and it feels like the world's gone mad.

There are long lines of traffic. Long lines of shoppers. My patience goes short as the day goes long.

"I'm ready to be done," I say.

Grant just smiles. This is his thing. The crowds. The lines. The wild-and-crazy, too-many-people stuff that pushes me to the brink.

I'd rather be home.

I'd rather be still.

But we're standing in line. There are six registers and the trail of customers snakes to the back of the store. We're close to the front. But my arms are tired, my boots are pinching my toes, and I'd rather shop online.

"You okay?" Grant says.

"Sure," I say.

And a register opens. And we plunk our treasures down.

The cashier gives me the total and I root through the dark cavern of my bag. I fish out my checkbook and I'm about to sign on the line when Grant surprises me.

His arm comes around my shoulders. His lips are swift on my cheek. "I love you, Mom," he whispers.Then, smooth as always, he's standing there, hands in pockets, this sixteen-year-old man-boy ready to take on the world.

And I'm taken.

And I'm sold.

And I'm lost.

It was a small gesture. So swift and smooth no one would notice.  No one in the world.

No one but me.

The last few years have been a strained time for us. Grant's been finding his own faith. He's been seeking. Searching. Pressing against our boundaries hard. There's been conflict. When Grant was little, I once told him not to touch the hot stove. His hand shot straight for the coils. He had to know for himself. He couldn't take my word. It's been like that.

Our faith could not be his.

He's had to find his own.

And now it's restoration time.

Our boy is coming home.

So I stand in the store with the madness all around. I finish the check and try to press my heart back inside. Grant's standing beside me and I don't want to cry. Not here. Not now.  I'm grateful when he takes the bags, and he and I wind our way to the door.

I still don't like holiday shopping. I haven't much use for the stores.

But this tender place of healing with my boy?

I'm praying we can stay.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Living Gratitude

It's the day after Thanksgiving and I want to hold on to thankful.

I want to see God's good gifts. I want to recognize and celebrate blessing. I want to live in a don't-take-it-for-granted way.

And I want my boys to live gratitude, too.

So that's the beat of my heart. I want to press the day through a lens of thanksgiving.

Until we climb the steps to the attic. Until we pull the plastic Christmas tree down.

"Mom, I want a real tree. Like the ones we had before," Samuel says. We're lugging one-third of the way-too-green tree down the curved stairwell. "This color is weird. And it doesn't smell good."

He's right. I miss the romance of the cut-your-own-tree thing. It was tradition. We'd go out the Friday after Thanksgiving. The lot we went to was rustic. We'd bundle up and trudge over a bridge. We'd climb hills. We'd roam and wander and wind through trees, looking for the perfect tree to satisfy all. It would be a Douglas fir. Short needles. Old-fashioned looking. Not too big. Not too small. Not too perfectly shaped.

But perfect for us.

Hauling my in-laws' old tree from upstairs wasn't the same.

"I know, Samuel. I'd rather have a real tree, too. But we decided to use this one.  It's frigid-cold outside. Real trees dry out fast. And Logan leaves tomorrow. If we want him to help, it has to be today." I tug the tree but the branches are stuck in spindles. Remember gratitude. "We're lucky Grandma and Grandpa gave us their old tree."

A half-hour later the tree's in the stand. We fluff branches. A decade of dust fills the air. The tree is even greener in the light. And the shape is too perfect. It's a perfectly shaped plastic tree.

And I begin to fuss. Lament. Complain. So much for the sweet trip to the woods. So much for the boys tugging on the saw. So much for strapping the tree to the Suburban and listening to Christmas music on the way home.

Lonny and the boys fluff on.

But all I see is the dust. And a homely old tree. A tree that smells like attic. So much for the evergreen scent. So much for tradition. So much for memories. They're out the window, too.

I complain louder.

Lonny offers to shove the tree back into the attic (and I think he means it). He offers to take us to get a tree. But now it's too late and it's still too cold and suddenly I'm a woman who can't be pleased.

And the boys chime in.

"We don't like this tree."

"This isn't fun."

"I'm starting to sneeze."

"Let's go get a tree."

Now we're a wild, nagging, ungrateful bunch. The tree is in the corner, but the small boys and I hack it down with words.

And I look around. And it hits me that we're mourning a tree, but it's really gratitude that's been lost. There's not even a shred left. Thankful has gone ugly and Mama set the tone. Related Post: Mama Sets the Tone.

Lonny and the two big boys fall into chairs. And I want to fall into tears. I need to ask for forgiveness. I need to set things straight. I need to pull things together but I don't know how.

My grace is sufficient. It's sufficient for you.

Is it God? Will it cover my blunders? Will it wash over my mess?

We sit for awhile. I apologize and I'm broken. I hurt for what we've lost. For what I've taught the boys. But their grumbling continues. It's too late. We've gone full swing.

Then Logan stands. He begins to string lights. Grant lifts a strand, too, and they're winding lights over the tree.

 They're covering the unlovely with soft, golden light.

And I know it's His grace that covers me, too.

His grace is sufficient.

It swells in my heart.

It swells in my home.

The little boys lift strands of lights. They want to join in. The complaints are quiet. There's chatter and laughter and togetherness and love.

And me?

I'm humbled. I stand and watch.

And I'm living gratitude after all.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving From Our Home to Yours


                                                                Working together...
                                                                 sharing together...

                                                             giving thanks together...

                                            Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Gratitude - A Gentle Reunion

The household is waiting. Waiting for big brother to come home.

Broken toys are piled on the paino. There's a cake in the oven.

And three little boys line the back window, hands pressed on cool glass.

"When will they be here?" Zay asks. He's been watching down the road.

It should be time. They should be close.

"Soon," I say. "Why don't we play a game? Read a book? It'll help the time pass."

"No," Zay says. "I have to wait here."

I go about business in the kitchen. There are endless chores. Stacked dishes. Crumbs on the floor. Traces of life piled high.

And the little boys wait.

And the clock hands move slow.

I watch the boys as the boys watch the road.

Finally there's a whoop! A shout. The boys see my parents' van. The grandparents went to retrieve our boy.

And now they've brought him home.

The boys are out and the porch door slams. I stand in the doorway and watch them pound the stairs. Then I'm after them. Fast. It's a reunion I don't want to miss.

Logan's barely out of the van when Zay presses into his arms. The other brothers swarm. They want to be held, too, but they wait because Zay is small.

And there it is - the gentle reunion.

Logan's standing still. His hands stretch over Zay's back. Zay pushes in deep. His eyes close. His hands don't meet over Logan's shoulders, but they're holding tight. He doesn't let go.

Time has passed. We've grown. Changed. But the family beat carries on.

We're all still for a moment. Then the fullness of life rushes in. There are questions. Stories. Chatter and helpers accompany big brother in.

It's almost Thanksgiving.

A coming-together time.

And I'm grateful before it begins.

Thank you, God...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thanksgiving Meal Preparation - A Way Keep Small Hearts and Hands Full

It's the week before Thanksgiving. The boys are talking tradition. Mashed potatoes. Pumpkin pie. We're making a grocery list - fast, wild scratches on a paper on the fridge.

We're planning to come together.

And I want to pull the boys in.

They love to be in the kitchen. Whisking. Whipping. Chopping (don't read this, Mom). But the busy of Thanksgiving morning can be enough to drive a mama mad.

So we have a plan.

A turkey plan.

A plan to keep small hands and hearts full.

                                              How to Make a Fruity, Tasty Turkey

Gather supplies: apples, raisins (it's nice to have gold raisins,too), dried cranberries, toothpicks, and grapes.

Set a work station - close enough for some supervision, far enough to give mama some work space, too.

Show children how to string raisins and cranberries on toothpicks. Patterns can be fun.


Press the decorated toothpicks into the back of an apple. These will be the feathers.

String another toothpick and place a grape on the end. Press into the front of the apple. This is the turkey's head.

That's it! The children have a contribution. They're preparing while I'm preparing. (They usually make one for each place setting.)

The boys get the blessing of giving and sharing - bringing something from God's goodness to the Thanksgiving table.

But the blessing of holding my boys close and still giving them space to grow?

That one is all mine.

Monday, November 12, 2012

When The Ordinary Turns Extraordinary - Why I Love Today

Today is an ordinary day.

I'll wipe counters. And noses. I'll spend the day with a stack of books and a stack of boys.

I'll take a walk at noon. To stretch the dog. To stretch the sons.

I'll start dinner at three. Then run like wild until five.

And the evening will evenings always do.

But today I'm in love. I've fallen in love with today.


today I can hold a hand.

I can listen deep, with focused mind and heart.

And I can make  someone special feel like he's the most special- someone in the world.

Today I can help mold a character.

I can speak words of life.

I can invest.

I can give.

I can love.

I can use this day to know Him more. To let His love flow.

Over me.

Through me.

And into this day .

A day that's extraordinary after all.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Slow to Anger and Abounding in Love - A Little Pirate's Lost Key

Lonny's been stretched. Pulled tight. Pressed hard. Even the wild and wonderful of life can make one tired. I can hear it in his voice when I call him at work.

"Why don't you come home for lunch?" I say. "I'll make sandwiches. See you in a half-hour?"

Lonny agrees. I make lunch and the boys go out to play.

"Mom," Gabe calls through the open window. The sky is murky gray but the air is still warm. "I'm burying treasure. Come see!"

I find him in the side yard. He has the garden shovel. And a smile brighter than the day.

"Where's the treasure?" I ask.

"Can't tell."

"What's the treasure?" I ask.

"The key."

Just then Lonny comes down the patio steps. "The key," he asks. "What key?"

Gabe looks at his dad. Then he looks at me. I can see words wash over his face. Maybe the key wasn't a good thing to hide.

"The van key," Gabe says.

"You buried the van key?" Lonny asks. Color now floods his face. I can almost hear his thoughts. We only have one key. We meant to get another. Rain is about to come and why would he bury the key?

"Where did you bury it?"

"Somewhere along here."

"Why did you bury it?"

"I just don't know."

Gabe is pointing to the sidewalk that cuts through our side yard. He looks like he may cry. I don't know what he was thinking. But my own heart tugs hard.

And for a second all is silent.

Then Lonny does the most beautiful thing.

 He takes the shovel. He puts his hand on Gabe's shoulder. "Let's find that key," he says. "Where do we start?"

There is now a soft mist falling. I go inside and watch from the window. Lonny and Gabe move along the walk. Lonny's turning over soft mounds of dirt. They are talking. I can't hear the words.

But I'm witnessing an extension of God's good grace. I'm seeing His rich, sweet, compassionate kind of love.

Lonny's teaching. Turning dirt. He's tired. But he's leaning into the Lord. And He's tender with his son.

After a few yards they find the key. Lonny slips it in his pocket and they go to their knees. The rain falls hard as they pat the earth back down.

When they're finished I wrap Lonny's sandwich.  He gives me a hug and travels back up the steps.

Gabe stands beside me and watches.

He's a just a little boy.

But I think he understands the treasure that he's found.

The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. Psalm 103:8