Monday, March 25, 2013

Heart for God

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Deuteronomy 6:5

It's time for bed and there are boys at the sink, mouths frothy and white. Then there are minty kisses, arms twined around our necks, hands held, and prayers offered.

And then the question comes.

"Mom, will you rest with me? For just a minute?" Zay asks.

I look at Lonny and he smiles. He settles onto the trundle bed and curls around one son. I hold another one tight, pat his back, then watch him climb the ladder to the top bunk. Then I bend and curl and settle around Isaiah on the bed underneath.

Lonny and I can't say no. We want to wrap around these boys, and for a few minutes in time, feel their bodies, their wonderful frames, in the safety of our arms. Their breath is warm on our necks, soft as a whisper. Their chests rise and fall as they drift off to where the edges are smudged and sweet.

Then I hear Zay's voice. It's a breath. His heart is beating close to mine. "I love you Mom," he says. "But not with my whole heart."

"Oh?" I ask.

His lids are heavy and his words are slow. "The top part, where the bumps are. Where it goes schloop. Schloop. That part is for you."

I pull him closer. He smells like soap and all things fresh.

"What about the rest?" I ask. "The rest of your heart?"

"Not the rest," he says. "The whole heart. The whole part. My whole heart is for God."

His eyelids flutter and he's almost asleep. His breath takes on the even, peaceful pattern of rest.

I think about what he's said. I'm not sure it makes sense, the part and then the whole. But I understand what he means.

His heart, his whole heart, belongs to God. It belongs to God first.

It's my desire hat he will always love God first. That he will indeed always love family, but his love for God would be first.

I run my fingers through angel hair and pray that this love, in his heart, will keep.

I believe it will.

And the beauty of this precious thing allows me to rest, too.

Lord, may we love you with all of our hearts. Amen.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spring is Coming

The calendar says it's spring. But it doesn't feel like it.

 It's cold.


 The sky holds dreary March gray.

The boys and I walk Sissy during lunch. Their cheeks stain red, and they're wearing mittens and hats and heavy winter coats. We walk Sis down the lane, and it's okay. We feel sheltered by the trees that block out the sharp wind. But when we turn and head for home, the icy cold hits hard. There's a sting. A bite.

We bundle tighter and press on.

I saw on Facebook, yesterday, that a friend had posted pictures from her yard. They were taken one year ago to the day. There was a tree branch. It wasn't bare and brown and asleep like the branches are today. There was green. The branches held buds.

Buds of promise of good things to come.

So I've decided that sometimes parenting is like waiting for spring. Winter has lasted too long. We're ready to shed the heavy layers. We're ready to feel the sun on our shoulders. We're longing to see those buds holding new life and fresh things.

And in time, with our children, those things will come.

I have to believe.

So for now we keep moving forward. We tug winter clothing on. We pull the zippers high. We walk and wait.

And we'll keep looking ahead.

Reaching for those desired things we believe, we know, will come.

"Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him." Psalm 91:15

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sister Strength - The Power of Sweet Prayer

"You never know," Betsy says, "who the Lord has praying for you."

My friend and I are sharing dinner. We're sharing hearts, too. It's been far too long since I've been comforted by Betsy's gentle, merciful ways.

I nod. But I'm worried for one of my sons.

"He has people praying," she says. "People you're not even aware of. I'm just sure."

Betsy and I talk for a few more hours. Then we part, and I forget her words.

Until the next day.

The boys and I are rollerskating. It's home school day at the rink. Zay and I clasp hands and he takes small, stiff strides. We're rounding the corner when a friend skates up alongside.

"How are you?" Amelia says.

"I'm doing fine," I say. "So are you. Look at you on those skates."

We chat for a bit, while the rink goes dark and lights from above throw pastel patterns on the floor. She's about to skate ahead, to catch her own girl, when she smiles so kindly that I can tell, before she speaks, that the words will come from her heart.

"I'm praying for you," she says. "I'm praying for your son."

I'm taken back. I don't remember what I've shared, but I'm sure it was scant. Maybe something in passing. Maybe something at the Valentine's party while we stuffed homemade boxes with lollipops and cards.

And I can feel the vise tighten. The strap of pain that comes when I hurt for my teenage boy.

Amelia sees the hurt, and her words are soft. "God brings him to mind often. Please know I'll be in prayer."

I thank her and then Zay slips.  I stoop to catch him and when we recover Amelia is ahead of us,  skating long loops on her own.

But my heart is touched.

I remember Betsy's words. God has people praying. More people than you know.

I'm in awe of a God who is so personal, so kind, to place what is precious to me on a sweet sister's soul.

And I shouldn't have been surprised, when two more times, sweet women,  friends I haven't seen in years, e-mail and call to share that they are praying for my family, too.

So, though we're trudging through some tough times, I can feel His love around me. I know there are prayers, from beautiful hearts, being lifted to the Lord.

The prayers of my sisters sustain me.

The love of these women brings me comfort.

And God's kindness, His goodness in all this, brings me peace.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

When One Who Wanders Comes Home

"Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me. I have found my lost sheep.'" Luke 15:4-6

"'For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.'" Luke 15:24


"Sis is gone!" Gabe hollered. His face was red and his brows were drawn tight. "She's not in the yard and the gate's open wide."

No, I thought. Not the dog. Not now. Please, Lord, let her come when I call.

Gabe and I stepped outside. I cupped my hands and shouted. Gabe's voice echoed my own.

Sis did not come running.

She'd left through that open gate.

I remembered, earlier in the morning, that Samuel had gone to the garage for milk. He'd come into the kitchen, hands curled around plastic cartons. He'd forgotten the latch.

"Get your coat. And your brothers, Gabe. We need to look for the dog."

Gabriel was off like a shot. And I stood in the empty the yard. All was quiet. All was still. Except for the fear that ran in my heart.

Soon we were gathered in the van. I drove. The boys prayed. One would pray and another would pick up and three little boys wove a seamless circle of prayer around our sweet girl.

But she wasn't anywhere to be found.

Our friends were looking, too. Lonny cane home from work. But a few hours passed, and doubt  settled hard. How far can a greyhound run? There's the morning traffic. And the river. And the winter sky that's spitting cold rain.

After a long morning, the boys and I went home to make lunch. The house felt empty. As I cut fruit and made sandwiches, I thought about Sissy's gentle ways. Her calm nature. The way she brought peace and love to even unsettled days.

The boys stood in the windows like toy soldiers.

My heart hurt for them. For Sis. For us.

And just when we'd about lost hope the phone call came.

"I have her," Lonny said. "She's with me. And we're on our way home."

Oh, the JOY. The GLADNESS. The CELEBRATION when one who has wandered comes back home.

A few minutes later the Suburban pulled in the drive. Lonny climbed out and opened the side door. Sis tumbled out. She was worn and tired. She was wet and spent and a little frayed.

But she was with us.

She'd returned.

We surrounded her and pulled her into the fold.

And the homecoming was sweet.

Lord, thank you for reminding me that You bring wanderers back home. Thank you for pursuing, for not giving up. And thank you, in advance, for that sweet celebration that will come. Amen.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Lifetime of Little Things

"If you think of it, will you grab my Sunday school lesson plans for March? In case I forget? They're in the classroom. You'll need someone to unlock the door," I asked as Lonny gathered his things.

Lonny was heading to church. It was the last Upwards basketball game Saturday. He coached two teams. And it was pizza party day, too. It would be wild.

My husband nodded, gathered two boys in red and black uniforms, and rushed out the door.

I collected a few more boys and arrived later. Just before the first game, I saw our pastor and remembered my materials. He unlocked the classroom door. I slid the papers into my bag.

And the day was full.

I saw Lonny, two games, two pizza parties, and hours later. He was deep in a throng of children, moving toward the stairs, for Samuel's basketball game.

And from his hand dangled keys.

"I'll grab your materials," he said as we passed. "On the way."

"Oh," I said. "I've got them." I patted my bag.

Lonny smiled and nodded. Then he was off. To return the keys. To head upstairs to watch the afternoon's last game.

And my heart swelled with love for this man.

It was a simple thing, for him to remember my need. Something small. But he'd been busy. Full. His mind and heart and time had been pulled in a hundred different ways.

But he remembered.

What a wonderful thing. When loving someone, when being loved, looks like a lifetime of small, thoughtful, care-giving things, churned and molded into ordinary days.

I found two sons, bought popcorn, and took a seat next to Lonny in the gym.

While the players were being announced, I whispered in his ear. "Thanks," I said.

"For what?" he asked.

"For a lifetime of little things."

With every burden I have carried
With every joy it's understood
Life with you is half as hard
And twice as good

"Twice as Good" by Sara Groves

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Prayer for Brothers

I hear them before I see them. Their voices are small. Hushed. I walk two steps more and now the murmur is behind my back.

Two little boys are huddled under the school table.

Their shoulders are hunched. Their hands curl around small, plastic action figures. The Batmobile is parked somewhere under there, too.

And they're lost.

Lost in the secret world of brotherhood.

It strikes me, as I stand here, how precious this relationship is. "You're best friends by design," I tell them often,"God made you brothers." Now I watch them, their chins tucked and their blond heads tipped and pressed tight, and I want to pray for their relationship. For the relationships of all of my boys.

These relationships will be standing long after Lonny and I are gone.

And it's my prayer that they will will stand strong.

I think now about the big boys, too. How it's so natural for them to pull a small one to a lap. How a joke or story can pass between them and not be lost in a fifteen year gap. How last week at basketball, Zay said to a teammate, "Please pass me the ball. My big brother is here."

There is something dear about brotherhood.

So I pray here and now, while the little ones whisper in their own secret world...

that their brotherhood would be strong in this one.


Thank you for these boys. Thank you for their hearts, their minds, their strong bodies. Thank you for the gift of brotherhood.

Please grow their relationships. I pray that there would be trust among my boys. I pray that they would defend one another, that they would cover the brothers' backs. I pray that there would be laughter and joy, common interests, things that they will share and enjoy throughout the years. I pray that one day their wives would love one another, too. Let my boys have a deep, loving friendship, like David and Jonathan's, made even more rich because of the brother bond.

Protect my boys from the enemy, Lord. Protect their relationships. Keep them safe. I know that the enemy targets brotherhood. He aimed arrows at the first brothers, after all. Please guard my sons.

Help my boys sharpen one another, and above all else, encourage one another to walk with and seek You.

I'm grateful, Lord, that you are the designer of family. Of boys. Of brothers.