Thursday, February 28, 2013

Snow Day

The snow is falling. The flakes are lazy, swirling us, resting on Sissy's back. We walk along, two boys making tracks, right down the center of the quiet road. Gabe's hair catches the flakes, too, and holds them like gems.

                                                                 Everything is slow.

                                                                 Everything is still.

In the white hush, the boys' voices are crisp. They're laughing. They've started a rolling snowball, because the snow is just right for packing, and the two small ones roll and push. Then Zay breaks free, comes from behind, and catches my mittened hand. He's catching flakes, his tongue poking out pink, and he doesn't have to hope too hard because we're in a snow globe now and the white is swirling faster.

There's nowhere to go today. It's just the road and the boys and the time to enjoy.The commitments and rush and practices and appointments and clubs and all the wonderful things have ceased.

                                                                We'll stay home.

                                                         Today our world is small.

                                                           And it fits us just fine.

I'm grateful for a day like today. For a day when there is something wonderful in the simple. When the world goes white and covers us with stillness.

Sissy begins to prance and the boys run and I do, too. Their boots hammer like a herd. A roaring stampede of boys. Sis comes to life in the snow, she's a pup again, claiming the playful she probably never had.

We run until we're panting, the dog, the boys, and me. Then we start back home. But we won't rush.

                                                    There's much to love along the way.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Imperfect Family - But a Perfect Fit

I sit in church and look down the pew. It's been a hard week. We sit and we're cleaned up and everyone is wearing Sunday-only shoes.

We're spit-shined on the outside.

But we all have our stuff. Today it's covered by a veneer of Sunday smiles.

I look around the church. Everyone looks together. They're Sunday-shined too. But I wonder how many of us feel unraveled inside. I wonder, in the important places, how many are not-so-shined at all.

I wish we could be the perfect family, but we're not. And I begin to think, about all these rough edges. The not-so-great spots. The parts of us that far from shine.

And the perfect family is only a dream.

But then I I sit and think, I hear the soft stirring, the gentle loving, the sweet kindness that can only come from Him.

No, we're not perfect. But we fit perfectly

in the shadow of His wings

I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. Psalm 61:4

on the palm of His hand

I will not forget you. See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands...Isaiah 49:15-16

in His strong tower

For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against my foe. Psalm 61:3

in center of His grace.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
2 Corinthians 12:9

I guess we all have our stuff.. Things that don't shine like Sunday best.  This side of heaven, in our humanness, we always will.

A perfect family? No.

But it's okay.

We're a perfect fit.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Reaching for the Light

I walk through dining room, and I'm moving at a good clip. Then I see the tulips on the sideboard.

They're straining. They're stretching. Their slim, green stems are pressed toward the light.

And I stop.

Something here is lovely.

I think of my family, my household. I want to stretch, to lean, to reach toward the light, too.

                                    Lord, be the light that warms us, nourishes us, sustains us.

                               And please  keep my family reaching and stretching for You..

Monday, February 18, 2013

Buttons and Deliberate Things

I'm at Mom and Dad's for a visit. My boys cluster their grandfather - there's a game board and a snowy sky and the sweet blessing of time.

And I sit in the rocker and stitch. Sewing is not my thing. My mom looks over, now and again, with a watchful eye. She knows that sewing and  I don't get along. She offered to help, but I want to do this myself.

I bought this coat two years ago. I got it for a steal. True, most of the buttons had been stripped off. I had to gather them from the floor.

I listen to my boys and visit with my mom and pull the thread tight. It feels good to accomplish this task. I love the coat. It has a vintage feel.

I'm not going to fuss too much about measuring. I'll just align the buttons with the holes, while the whole thing is draped over my lap.

I visit and stitch and celebrate when each button is tethered to the front of my coat. I'm proud. Seems I've mastered the menace of a needle and thread.

There's got to be some grace in the placement of the buttons. It's not a science, after all.

So I finish and I'm so thrilled I could whoop with joy. It's taken a long time to take the time. But now the coat is done. My boys offer applause. There's a basket of sewing task at home and they know it gathers dust. Finishing this coat is a big deal.

My boys' smiles are sweet. They stop their game and pause to watch.

I slip the coat over my shoulders and push the first button through the hole. I'm excited, so I button fast, and I don't see until I'm finished that one side hangs a good four inches below the other.

"Oh,Mama," Zay says. "I think you skipped a button on your coat."

But I didn't skip a button. The buttons and holes weren't aligned. There's a hiccup, a bubble of fabric, between a few.

The coat was better with no buttons at all.

"I can't believe it," I say. I'm frustrated.

Why didn't I measure?

Why wasn't I careful?

So we ride home in the evening and my coat, once again, has no buttons. I've plucked them off and they're tucked in the pocket again.

Deliberate. I should have been more deliberate with the placement of those buttons.

And I begin to think.

I want to be deliberate with the things that matter most. I don't want to be haphazard with the important things in life:

-growing in my relationship with the Lord
-sharing about Jesus and the gift of His love
-caring for others
-loving my husband well
-teaching my children the Word
-learning to live forgiveness, patience, and grace

Deliberate living.

With the things that matter most.

The coat? Oh well. So what if it will be another two years before I have the time for those buttons again.

 It's almost spring.

And there are more important things.

Lord, help me to take the time, to be careful, intentional, and deliberate, with the matter-the-most things. Amen

And thank you, thank you to the sweet son who showered mercy and sewed those buttons back on my coat. In the right places. Wahoo!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Living Bold Print

Sam and I are driving into town. It's rare, a getaway like this, if only to the grocery store. We're chatting about impending snow.

"I hope it does snow," he says. "Just once. Before spring."

I agree. But I'm a summer gal. So soon we're talking about warm weather and swimming and going barefoot and bike riding and just soaking in the sun.

"Seems like the winter's going fast," Sam says.

I agree.

"Doesn't seem like months ago that we were swimming and playing in the sun."

I look at my boy. He has that far-off look. Oh no, another one like me. Another one hard-wired with a looking-backward heart.

"Time moves fast," I say.

"It's too bad," Sam says, "that we can't remember every single day."

"What do you mean?" I ask.

"I just wish I could remember every day. I forget." He looks out the window at the farmland rushing by. "You know how it is. Lots of days pass. But we just remember the bold print stuff."

"The bold print stuff?" I ask.

"Ya. You know. The important stuff. The parts that would be in bold print."

I need to watch the road but I want my eyes to rove over this little kid. I want to remember his eyes and the sweet curve of his jaw and the way his hands are splayed over his jeans.

Soon I feel like crying. I'm desperate to grasp it all.

"Do you think, Mom, when we get to heaven, we can ask God questions?"

"I don't know," I say.

"If I can, I'll ask Him why I can only remember the bold print days."

Lord, please store the preciousness of these days in my heart. Let me live each day as a bold print day. Amen.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Whatever It Takes - An Uncomfortable Prayer

I was invited to share, at a local Christian school, about writing. In a lot of ways it was like going home. My older boys attended school there. The school is in my old neighborhood. My friends teach at that sweet place.

The familiar can be so comfortable.

So I'm standing at that school, in a classroom, talking with a long-time friend. I hadn't seen her for ages, but we went to the same church years ago. I knew her grown daughters when they were girls. She watched my oldest sons, Logan and Grant, grow, too. My friend and I stand there while the students jostle about in the halls, while the room is yet quiet and still, and we talk fast and deep about growing children.

We talk about  the stretch and pull and pain that is just a part of parenting.

I tell her that I'm worried for my boy. The one who danced wild in Sunday school. The one with the gleam in his eye that caused my cheeks, more than once, to burn a deep shade of red.

She remembers.

I smile.

Not for long, though. Because my friend's eyes are full of compassion and she's listening with her heart. Before long my bound-up emotions tumble out. Words spill fast. I hadn't intended to let them loose. But her compassion is a soft place and I've needed, for some time, to fall.

My friend listens.And when my heart is quiet, she speaks. "A friend taught me to pray," she says, "for whatever it takes."

I look at her. I'm puzzled.

"I've learned to pray, with my kids, for whatever it takes to bring them to close, restored fellowship with the Lord."

Something in me panics. I understand the prayer. Whatever it takes, Lord. What ever life circumstance. Whatever hardship. Whatever hard thing here and now is better than an eternity without You.

The students rush in and the seats fill and it's a few hours before I can consider the prayer. But as my key pokes the ignition the thought of that prayer rambles in my head. It's uncomfortable.  It presses on my soul. It's solid and strong the way home. It moves with me over the roads and across the bridge and to the familiar place of home sweet home.

Lord, the most important thing is that my boys accept your grace. That they put their trust in Your Son. That they walk with you and love you with all their hearts, minds, souls, and strengths. The most important thing is that they'll spend eternity in the goodness of your grace.

I'm in the drive now. I should go inside but I cannot leave the van. I sit. I shut the motor off. I watch a red bird flit from limb to limb. I notice winter-bare branches reaching toward the sky.

Lord, You love him more than I can imagine. Please allow whatever circumstance, whatever it takes to draw him close to You.

And the comfort comes.

There's an abundance of love.

There's grace, mercy, and compassion  in my uncomfortable prayer.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Sunny Box and the Banana in My Bag

Seems like life rolls along. Then, all of a sudden, something smacks you so hard and fast it knocks your easy breath straight out.

It's hard to recover.

It's hard to smile and pretend.

It's hard to put one foot in front of the other when you feel like your knees are going to give. Suddenly the day feels January cold and a dark cloud hovers near.

So I gather the children and walk the dog. I breathe fresh air and try untangle my thoughts We put a half-mile on our legs, or more. And when I return, when we trudge up the drive, there's a box by the door.

 It's colored bright like the sun.

I climb the steps and wonder. Then I see the top of the box. It's zebra print. And I know exactly who it's from.

The box is from my friend.

I hold the box with gloved hands and while the boys unwind their layers. It takes a long time to kick off boots, to hang jackets, so I leave them to their business on the porch. I take the box to the kitchen and slide a knife along the taped edge. I pry the flaps loose. And I smile.

Everything is sunshine-yellow inside. It's a box of hope for a sunnier day.

There are lemon bars and yellow hair bands (my friend's girls know I never can find one). There's a bracelet with yellow beads. There are yellow socks and a yellow workout top. There's lip balm in a yellow tube. There's yellow nail polish and yellow note pads and Scripture placed throughout on paper that is yellow, too.

I cry as I poke through the box. My heart has been touched deep.

And then I find the banana.

 It's plastic. And bright. And suddenly I'm laughing like mad. It strikes me as funny, and the laughter is dear. I wonder how the banana made it to the box among all these sweet things. I wonder if it was chosen by my friend's young son (I can just see it - and I smile). I wonder if it was placed there for this reason - to make me forget for a moment. To make me laugh.

It doesn't matter because the right now the release, the mixture of laughter and tears, is a healing balm.

The boys have finished. Their boots are in a row. They come into the kitchen, eager to look through the box. We sit and  paw through and enjoy. When we're finished, I slip the banana into my purse. It's light and doesn't take much space. I want to carry it with me as a reminder.

The banana reminds me of friends' love. It reminds me that others are willing to carry our burden, too, and when this happens it is sweet. But most of all it reminds me of how gracious and creative God is - of how much He loves me - and  how He used precious hearts and hands, on a gray winter day, to bring me the warmth of the sun.

Monday, February 4, 2013

A Box of Beautiful and Living in the Moment

There's a new coffee shop in my hometown. The baked goods are lovely. Delicious. But wonderful to look at, too.

I stood at the counter and chose a cupcake for each of my boys. There were a few different flavors. I selected with care. Chocolate peanut butter for a couple. Red velvet, with mounds of icing, chocolate, and gold flecks for another...The cupcakes were, one by one, removed from pedestal stands behind the glass.

And I brought them home in a cute, brown box.

The boys were grateful. I let Zay break the rules and he delved into his before dinner. Another son wanted to wait until after dinner. Another enjoyed his before bed.

But two cupcakes remained in the box. Two sons wanted to wait until they were just-the-right-amount of hungry. Until the timing was right. Until they could sit down, without distraction, and enjoy their desserts.

That was Friday. This morning I woke up, reached for the coffee pot, and noticed the brown box. The two cupcakes were still inside. I opened the box and pulled one out. It was still lovely to look at. But the icing was hard. The cake part was tough. The cupcake had gone crunchy and dry and the box is destined for the trash.

Makes me sad. The boys waited too long. They lost the blessing.

So now I sit and sip my coffee and watch the windows fill with morning gray. Another day is about to unfold. It will be wild (Lonny kept the boys out too late last night). It will be Monday-full. There will be homeschool lessons and laundry and running a boy to work. There will be packing lunches and packing basketball and Scouts into an already too-full day. There will be dinner-on-the-run because that's the order of our Mondays and by the end of it all we'll be grateful for our beds.

But there will be blessing, too. Sweet blessing. Blessing more lovely and sweet and beautiful than those cupcakes in a box. There will be smiles, hugs, opportunity to hold my boys tight. A moment to encourage. A moment to be encouraged. I can enjoy rumpling a head of fine, blond hair or the feel of a soft, small hand still folding into mine. I can treasure the swift hug from a boy-turning-man or even see goodness and life in the pile of shoes by the door.

There will be blessing.

I'll  just have to be wise enough, careful enough, willing enough, to live in the moment, to taste, savor, and enjoy.

Lord, help me to recognize and receive the sweet, small blessing You have for me today. Amen.