Everyone says that I will miss the time when you were small. And sure, there will be those days when I miss squeezing that bouncing little boy–who wouldn’t? You were so cute and cuddly!
Yet, as I watched you take your bat in hand and walk in front of the row of coaches looking on from the outfield, my heart raced a little in excitement. We have entered a new phase of life. No longer are you my little baby, but you have grown into a little boy who makes me proud.
Perhaps Play-doh and preschool didn’t come as naturally for us, but Tee Ball we can do. We can play catch and practice and cheer from the sidelines. We can eagerly anticipate every game with you and assure you when you’re nervous. We can celebrate with you when you win and remind you to be a good sport when you don’t.
Yes, we can do Tee Ball, and we can do ‘Go Fish.’ We can do ‘Go Fish’ and puzzles and put on little plays. We can practice reading stories and writing our own ones (with illustrations!), too.
People said that I would miss those days when you were a baby, but I don’t know. I’m pretty excited about that big boy who is in front of me now.
Did you have a favorite phase in your child’s life? When was it?
And don’t forget about Journeys this Friday! The topic for the week is forgiveness. Don’t really understand Journeys? Check out the new tab at the top of the page, and tell me what you think!
“But Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these'” (Luke 18:16, New International Version, 2010).
I’ve read and heard this verse many times, and every time I have visited it, I have come away with the same meaning–that we should approach our faith as a child would, accepting and believing without letting doubt steal away our hope in the Savior.
However, this past time I closed my Bible with a new treasure buried in my heart.
While we are to approach faith like a child, I believe Jesus is making another point–He truly likes children. I can picture Jesus calling the children to Him, laughing as they topple onto His chest, knocking Him to the ground. I can picture Him tickling and playing and kissing boo-boos on skinned knees, and I can picture Him holding their hands, gently guiding them back to their mothers’ care.
And what’s not to like?
Children are happy. They aren’t worn down with worry and stress, and they always wear a smile. They giggle and squeal often, truly embracing the moment.
And when sadness or anger hits them, they don’t hide their feelings as we adults have learned to do so well. They have their outbursts, but then they regain their composure and find happiness again, feeling better having purged themselves of the unpleasant emotions.
Children forgive, and not just in word. One minute a child could have been slapped by his sister, and in the next the two are having tea around a little table and miniature teapot with all of their distinguished guests. They don’t hold grudges that grow and fester over time, pushing those in need of forgiveness further away.
Some hug, some kiss. Others are more shy with physical touch but don’t let an hour go by without uttering an ‘I love you.’ Children aren’t ashamed or afraid or wrapped up in what’s an appropriate display of affection–they let those they love know it the instant they feel it, and they protect those they hold dear.
Children aren’t worried with what others think; they do what feels right. And while their impulses need direction at times, they live life with passion. They live life in color. They don’t lie awake at night wishing they could get their day back to do over.
And children show compassion. They cry when they see others hurting, their tender hearts not yet calloused by a world that offers so many examples of suffering. They take with them to bed images of a sick child on T.V. or a homeless man on the corner and tuck them under the covers alongside their teddy bears. They don’t forget as easily as we.
Yes, the kingdom belongs to them.
Perhaps, if we saw Jesus with those little children on His knee, we would see child-like faith a little clearer. And, perhaps, if we saw those little children with their smiles and giggles, we would understand faith in action.
Thankfully, God gave me little children of my own, and I think He would have me get down on my knees and have them come to me. He would have me put aside the bills for a moment, put down the broom. He would have me turn off the iphone and let them come. He would have me watch and learn.
And, perhaps, when my hand reaches to tousle their hair, my fingertips would brush the kingdom of God.
Now it’s your turn. How did you respond to this verse? Link up or leave a comment below! Be sure to visit the other blogs and leave a comment; you’ll make that person’s day! And if you are linking your own post, grab the code for my button on the sidebar, and invite others to take this journey.
Before I begin, I will apologize for this post. While I liked the posts I wrote this week, they left me a little depressed. I guess that’s what happens when one’s baby gets put in a cast! As a result, I decided to use one of Mama Kat’s writing prompts as a chance to lighten the mood.
4.) Read the quote and let it inspire your post: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. -Maya Angelou
Caleb held the door for his sisters as they walked into the bright room. Sun streamed through the blinds on the back window. As they approached the desk, a woman stood and smiled.
“I’ll tell Elizabeth you are here.”
One minute later, Elizabeth wheeled their mother into the room; she was obviously expecting their arrival. “Look, Mrs. Davis,” she said cheerily. “You have visitors.”
“Hi, Mom,” Chloe said sweetly, bending down to kiss her mother on the cheek.
The old woman’s expression did not change, a straight line for lips, her eyes gray.
The brother and sister followed suit, and Caleb thanked Elizabeth while taking the handles of the wheelchair from her. As he pushed his mother into the den area, Hannah Grace walked over to blinds and closed the set to the left of the room. The family made their way to the familiar couch, passing the old man who had taken up his regular residence in the chair in front of the T.V.
The children smiled as they passed him, nodding ‘hello,’ while the old woman let out a barely audible, “hmmpf.” Caleb turned his mother’s wheelchair to fit in between the couches, and the three children sat.
“So, Mom,” Caleb began. “How are you feeling today?”
The old woman didn’t answer.
“Has Elizabeth taken you for any walks lately?” Hannah Grace inquired. “The weather has warmed up quite a bit.”
“Yeah, Mom,” Caleb agreed. “Everyone came out for Tyler’s baseball game yesterday, and it was such a nice day. He won his game, you know.”
“He did so well,” Chloe added. “The day was perfect for the game. The drizzle held off until just as we were leaving.”
Mrs. Davis offered a slight laugh, and the children looked at one another and smiled, hopeful for the interaction they craved from their mother.
“I told him it would rain,” she said quietly.
“I don’t think we talked about the game…” Caleb trailed off as his mother continued.
“He didn’t listen. He never did.”
“Who didn’t listen, Mom?” Chloe wondered if she remembered, if she could connect the dots in the memory forming.
“The trees were beautiful. Spanish moss covered our heads. But we ran, oh how we ran!” She laughed at the picture in her mind.
“He wanted to walk–where did he want to go?” She paused for a moment. “I don’t know,” she muttered quickly, “but we had to walk, and he didn’t know where he was going!” She looked at everyone and smiled.
“We walked and walked and had to turn around…oh!” She laughed again.
“Did it rain?” Chloe asked?
“Did it rain, Mom?” Hannah Grace continued. “You said before that you told him it would rain.”
“Oh. It lightninged!” A glimmer returned to her eyes. “We ran and ran because we thought the rain would pour on us.”
“Did it?” Caleb leaned forward, smiling.
Mrs. Davis looked down, searching for the answer. She didn’t know.
“We ran, and I thought we were going to get struck by lightning, and we laughed, even though I was a little afraid. He never ran so fast. I don’t think he ever ran much.” Her eyes were moist.
“Now wait a minute!”
Everyone looked up sharply, not expecting an interruption. The man in front of the T.V. stood up.
“I’ve run plenty! And I wasn’t slow!” The man was offended.
The children looked at one another, shocked that this was happening.
The old woman just stared, searching her memory. And then,
“Oh, please! You run one race, and now you think you’re an athlete!”
“Jennifer, your memory is fuzzy. I ran plenty, so don’t make me out to be some incompetent fool!”
“I’m going to get Elizabeth,” Hannah Grace said as she moved through the couches.
Chloe moved over and rested her hands on her mother’s shoulders.
“Now, Mom, try not to get too worked up. Dad, you need to take it easy; let’s see what else she can remember.”
“I can remember that your father is a fool!” Mrs. Davis yelled. “Who makes his wife walk miles in a lightning storm?!”
“It wasn’t lightning when we left, and we had a good time, Jennifer. We were together…” he trailed off.
“Yes, it was a good time,” she agreed softly.
Mr. Davis walked over from where he had been yelling across the room.
“You remember?” he asked, making his way to his wife.
“Yes,” she answered, as he took her hands in his. “Yes.”
Hannah Grace was back with Elizabeth, the other two siblings, tears streaming down their faces.
“Mrs. Davis, let me get you a glass of water,” Elizabeth offered.
“Elizabeth, move out of the way, please,” the old woman stated with authority. “Matt, let’s go. Take me to my room.”
“Mom, wait,” Hannah Grace said. “Let’s talk a little more; let’s visit.”
“I will see you kids later. Push me, Matt; let’s go!”
The old man grabbed her wheelchair, winking as he passed by his children.
“But…wait…Mom…Dad…” the children didn’t know what to do next, as they were left alone in the den.
Mr. Davis wheeled Mrs. Davis down the hall, and gently pushed open the second to last door on the right. He parked her wheelchair next to her bed.
Mrs. Davis raised a shaking hand to her grey locks, pinned in a bun, and let her long, straggly hair fall to her shoulders. Mr. Davis reached in her wheelchair and grabbed underneath her legs and behind her back, heaving her onto the bed. Both took out their dentures and placed them side by side on the night stand.
And they embraced.
And for the first time in a very long time, they remembered what it was like to make love. Or at least to try.
What? Too much? My apologies to Nicholas Sparks and anyone who now wants to throw up. If you’d like to read any more short stories about “The Crazy Old Bat” without sex, click here.
For a more thought-provoking post, please return tomorrow ready to link up your own post for Journeys responding to the following verse: “But Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.'” (Luke 18:16, New International Version, 2010).
I remember standing on that stage, my fellow officers beside me. And while I can’t remember what was said at that moment, I’ll never forget the well-spring of emotions bubbling inside of me.
Some minutes before, I raised my right hand and promised to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” and the smile stretched across my face as I uttered, “So help me God.” The captain commented on how smiley I had gotten at the end, and the audience chuckled. And now standing there in the row, knowing that I had changed the course of my life by taking that vow, I felt a pride that I rarely feel for myself.
I was joining the ranks of those who sacrifice for their country every day. My dresses and skirts were now replaced with a blue uniform, my jeans with camouflage, and the career with discipline at its core was now mine to embrace.
And I was brought back to this moment when she called my name. Something in her voice as she called, “Mommy,” the desperate need for me to hold her, to comfort her as the doctor squeezed her arm.
Standing on that stage together, we all heard the little baby cry, “Mommy!” as she saw clearly her mother on that stage, the woman who was my roommate for the last twelve weeks. And all of the emotion I had suppressed gushed out of my eyes. The three months of stress I harbored as I worked under the watchful eyes of those wanting to catch us in a mistake, the three months of sleeping in my single bed instead of the arms of my husband, the three months of having to earn any freedom I had instead of deciding my own liberties–that three months of tension burst out from me.
I looked out and saw my own mother in the crowd, a veteran before me, and our tear-filled eyes connected. I cried like an idiot because I heard the word, “Mommy” and knew the tears that that mommy had shed; I cried because I couldn’t stop.
And as I held my own daughter yesterday, I remembered that officer who went months without holding hers. I thought of those who have gone years.
Before I joined the military, I knew this career would be a ‘before children’ career. I was willing to sacrifice for my country, even my life, but not them.
I held my daughter close yesterday and, with gratitude, thought of my fellow officer, my former roommate, and the sacrifices she had to make. The sacrifice that I couldn’t.
If I could go back, I would. I would’ve followed you into the next room and kept my hand on your back.
Unfortunately, we can’t know what the future will bring, and we can’t always protect you. But our job isn’t to keep you from falling–it is to be your legs when you can’t get back up.
Our hearts will hurt when you hurt, when you get poked and prodded and don’t understand why. If we could take away your pain, we would. But our job isn’t to keep you from pain–it is to be your heart when yours is broken.
I would tell you that it gets easier. When you are older, you will understand more, so you won’t get as frightened when you need help. But that sentiment isn’t really true. If we could keep you from getting scared we would. But our job isn’t to keep you from fear–it is to be your courage when yours is lost.
We can’t keep you from pain. We can’t keep you from heartache. We can’t keep you from fear. In fact, we’ve never felt so helpless since becoming parents.
But we will always have arms to give–to wrap around you, to hold you up, to smooth your hair, to give you your milk.
And when you say, “Thank you, Mo-mmy,” or “Thank you, Da-ddy,” our hearts will melt. But we will come back, even if you say nothing.
Because you are our Baby Girl, and that’s our job–and there’s no job we’d rather have.
“But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.'” (Luke 18:16, New International Version, 2010).
This Friday, come link up with your thoughts on this verse, whether you speak to it directly in context or the spiritual implications in a broader sense. I look forward to reading your posts as you take this journey with me! For more information on Journeys, click the link above or Journeys in the tag cloud for examples.
Faith has always seemed mysterious to me, how some people can have it and others struggle to find it. There isn’t a formula or steps a person can walk through to attain it–in fact, faith is almost the opposite. Faith is relying on somebody or something to live up to its promise, and the results are often out of one’s control. Faith is surrender, and at times, faith is frightening.
I’ve never had trouble believing in God; I find it harder to have faith in the idea that the world and all its beautiful intricacies do not point to the hand of a creator. I read the Bible, and I see prophecy after prophecy fulfilled, parallelism illustrated in books written hundreds of years apart, and the literature teacher in me delights in the richness of the pages. The words of Jesus hit me at the core, and I believe.
Something resonates in my soul, something that awakens my spirit to the idea that these words are true. And while doubts have come, they quickly wash away as sand pulled underneath the retracting tide.
But while I have faith in a big God and the miracles that He performed in another time, another place, I find that I don’t always have that same faith allowing me to believe He could work through me. While hearing a teaching on Gideon in church, I marveled at the faith of a man who believed God at His word that his mere army of 300 men would sufficiently destroy a Midianite army of over 100,000. I can believe that God asked someone else to trust Him, and He provided, but I can’t imagine trusting God in that way myself.
I want to be the woman who can pray and believe that what she is asking can happen. I want to be the Christian who has faith enough to act on the prompt of God, no matter the difficulty of what He asks. I want to be the person who could give up everything without knowing the next chapter in the story.
One of my favorite passages in the Bible is found in chapter nine of Mark. A man requests that Jesus, if He can, heal his demon-possessed son who has suffered since childhood. After Jesus responds that “everything is possible for one who believes,” the man cries out, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9: 23, 24, New International Version, 2010).
I get him. I understand believing in my heart that God has the power to do all He promises, but I wrestle with doubt at the same exact time. I want to believe, but I need help with my unbelief.
But I am comforted by the end of this story. Jesus does the impossible; He heals the boy. Despite any unbelief with which this man is fighting, God works a miracle. God opens the man’s eyes to His power and deals with his unbelief.
And I am no different than this man in the Bible. I have unbelief, but I also believe. And if I ask God to help me with my unbelief, He will–and that fact is scary because I don’t know what uttering those words–“God, help me overcome my unbelief!”–will mean for my life.
And I don’t know what they will mean for yours–perhaps revealing a path that points to a creator, perhaps driving you into the arms of a Savior, or perhaps giving you the courage to face the army that stands ahead–but He will answer.
Now the question is, will we make that demand? Will we demand that He help us overcome our unbelief? Because until we do, we are missing out on the second half of the story.
We’re just a mass of people waiting at the edge of the water as the Egyptian army follows ready to attack. We’re just a tired, beaten-down man waiting in the belly of a giant fish. We’re just a pregnant, unwed teenager, confused and scared.
But I’d rather walk through that path with walls of ocean in the periphery. I’d rather make it to dry ground, delivering the message God had asked I take. I’d rather know my Savior and grab hold of the courage He can give…
…help me, Father. Help me with my unbelief….
Now it’s your turn! What did you learn about faith this week? Leave a comment, or link your post below. Grab the ‘Journeys’ button from the sidebar so others can join the conversation. Thank you for your participation!
It’s amazing what I’ve learned about myself by discovering what I’m not. And most of the things I’m not, I’ve learned from watching my husband.
Before we were even engaged, my future husband helped me on this process of self-discovery. I had my first job teaching students American literature, and I had decided I wanted to buy a desk and bookshelf. I hate shopping, so I had planned to find a desk that I liked at the first store I went into and then go home.
Matt, however, had a better idea. He took me to every store that carried desks in the entire state of Georgia, causing my eyes to blur and stomach to feel nauseous. And in the end, I bought a desk from the first store I went into. But as Matt so wisely stated, now I could be sure that I had the desk I really wanted.
Matt is always informed. Whereas I decide I want something and get it right then and there, Matt whips out his computer or phone, looks up all the reviews, compares prices between this site and that, orders a background check on the store owners, etc.
When I said we needed to get our chimney inspected, I found a coupon in one of our mailers and called that number. Matt, however, e-mailed me the number of an inspector he had found online after reading 10,000 reviews.
When Matt and I were going out of town so that I could attend a conference and have a night away together in the process, I showed Matt the list of hotels provided by the conference. Matt looked up every hotel on that list and off, spent three days equating the walking distance from the hotel to the convention center divided by the driving time to local restaurants times the access to Wi-Fi…so we could stay in the room for a total of nine hours.
Matt researches everything. When he was preparing to leave for a business trip, he Google-searched how to iron and pack a shirt–apparently Martha Stewart knows more about this topic than I. When I said the meat in the refrigerator was fine, Matt had to ask the online community how long meat stays fresh. And before beginning his workout routine, Matt read an entire book on the subject and cross-referenced all the sources in the back to determine what actually was the most effective way to get healthy.
I kidded with Matt that if he spent half as much time working out as he did reading about it, he would already look like this man.
While Matt’s propensity to rely on the internet before making a decision can drive me a little crazy, I have to admit that I always feel better about our decisions knowing Matt’s thoroughly investigated them. I trust him and his judgment, and I appreciate that he cares enough about the choices we make to ensure we’re making the right choices.
There is one choice that he didn’t fully investigate, though…
He didn’t realize how nasty I can act when I’m tired. He didn’t know how a countertop strewn with papers can turn his wife into a raving lunatic. He didn’t imagine how ugly his bride could appear without makeup and sleep.
And, yet, if he’s suffered from buyer’s remorse, he’s never tried to return the original for a better model. Matt’s committed to this purchase, and for that, I will always love him.
I’m joining Mama Kat today for her Writer’s Workshop.
And don’t forget to join me tomorrow and link up with your ownjourney on faith!
I took a deep breath as I entered Chloe’s room, laying out her pajamas for the night. The day was almost over, and as trying as it had been, I hadn’t blown it with the kids. That fact gave me just enough strength to deal with whatever they would throw my way before they fell asleep.
However, as I walked into Caleb’s room and expressed my frustration that he still hadn’t picked up his socks off the floor, he responded with a question that caused me to take another look at the day:
“How many times do you think you’re going to be mean to me today?”
I stood bewildered for a minute and proceeded to ask Caleb what he meant.
“You yelled at me a lot today, so I wanted to know how many times you’re going to be mean?”
After I contemplated where he got such a grasp on sarcasm, I explained to him that he had been very disobedient today and that I did have to scold him a lot, but I hadn’t lost my temper with him.
Or had I? Now his comment had me doubting myself.
That comment and the comment his sister made earlier when she stated with disgust, “You just ruined my life.”
So during a day when I was praising myself for keeping my cool, I still had managed to ruin the life of a three-year-old and caused a four-year-old to think his mother was incredibly mean.
I decided to take a minute to look at the day from my kids’ perspective. When I told Caleb that he hadn’t acted right today, he pointed out that he did do many of the things I had asked and only disobeyed a little. While he had spent much of the day defying me, he was right–he did help a few times, too. He got on his coat and shoes when we were trying to leave, and he put Chloe’s boot on, too. He cleared the table of his dishes at every meal, and he helped set the table for dinner. When I looked through Caleb’s eyes, I saw many tasks that were completed and a mother who was still harping about those from earlier in the day.
I had a slightly harder time looking through Hannah Grace’s eyes; it was probably all those bright colors and butterflies that got in the way. In any event, when I tried, I saw a mommy whose heart I could melt if I just caressed her cheeks while saying,”I’m sorry, Mommy. I won’t poke your bottom tomorrow.” And in her eyes, that apology erased all of the defiant behavior from the day.
Of course, if my kids stood in my shoes, they would have seen time after time after time children sneaking cookies and TV; ignoring requests to clean up; and that strange incident of running circles through the kitchen, poking my heiny every time they passed me while I was talking on the phone to Hannah Grace’s preschool teacher…just to name a few frustrations from the day.
Where they saw fun, I saw defiance. Where I saw defiance, they saw examples of obedience.
And I saw that while I was right, so were they.
Yes, my children need to obey, but I also need to see all that they do that is worthy of praise. I need to step inside their little shoes and take a look at me. Who do they see? A mother full of love, or a mother harboring disappointment?
Perhaps that paradigm shift will make the difference.
And if not, I’ll just embrace the title of ‘the meanie who ruins little kids’ lives.’
The children ran inside with rosy cheeks and the bottom of their pants dragging with the weight of wet snow. As they began to strip off their wet clothes and run upstairs to find a drier alternative, I turned to the stove.
In a pan, I whisked the cocoa powder, sugar, and salt and then turned on the kitchen faucet and waited for the water to turn hot. I added the water and stirred, watching as the powdery mixture transformed into a thick syrup.
“Is it ready yet?” Caleb asked as he ran down the stairs in his new outfit.
“No, sweetie. It takes time.”
And I watched the chocolate goo in the pan until slow bubbles rose up and popped.
I carefully poured in the milk and stirred amidst the sounds of a football bouncing off the wall and a toy shopping cart rolling throughout the downstairs. I, too, felt myself growing impatient for the warm, chocolate treat, testing the temperature every minute or so.
Finally, the drink was warm, and I turned off the stove and added the final touch of vanilla. As I poured the beverage into our mugs, I noticed how smooth and perfect the liquid flowed, and I gathered everyone to the table.
At the request of the kids, I grabbed some cinnamon sticks for everyone to stir, and then we drank. I slowly sipped, and my body warmed from the chocolate goodness.
I looked around the table, at three faces with newly painted chocolate mustaches, and I smiled at how happy they looked. Why in my life did I ever drink instant hot chocolate? I wondered as I brought more of the treat to my lips. This tastes so much better.
I had had that thought numerous times before. Cinnamon rolls from scratch, homemade bread, salsa, macaroni and cheese–in a quest to avoid unnatural ingredients, I had tried my hand at making many recipes the old-fashioned way rather than popping a can or opening a jar.
And the taste–there was never any comparison.
As I sipped my drink, I wondered what other tastes I had sacrificed in the name of convenience. Sure, the time to make these homemade recipes was at least double the instant or pre-made version, but they were always worth the wait.
A lot of things in my life are worth the wait.
What else had I sacrificed because it just wasn’t convenient?
I sipped from my mug and smiled at the kids who looked like they bathed in their chocolate instead of drinking it, and I thought of the many things in my life that were a true investment of time. I moved the warm cup between my hands, now empty, and felt its testimony–that the best things in life don’t come in an instant.
The day is blurry, the path before me a hazy white that blends into the morning sky, and I gingerly place one foot in front of the other, hoping I’m stepping on solid ground.
I recognize this path, having walked it before, but the surroundings have changed–I have changed–and I continue on, holding my hood close to my face, protecting my skin from the bitter cold. I know I wasn’t promised a journey without pain. I know I wasn’t promised a journey without tears, and I fight the gnawing in my belly that tells me to give in to the anxiety that would have me turn back the other way.
And while I want to see the end of the road, the stark white on white allows me only to see that which is right before me. So I take a step.
With each step, I question the direction I am headed. Uncertain, I clutch the mustard seed in my hand a little tighter and watch as my feet hit the ground before me.
It’s only a mustard seed, but it is enough. For I know now that when I whisper to Him in the dark of night, frightened by the unknown that surrounds me, He gently touches my cheek. And when I continue to journey along the path, unable to see more than a few steps ahead, He lifts me over the roots and the mire that would entangle and snare.
I don’t have to see the end. I don’t have to understand the journey. But I have to take Him with me, for the uncertainty is too great, too overwhelming, to continue on without a guide.
So I call to Him earlier now. I no longer want to lead where I am not familiar, and He graciously makes straight my path. And while I still cannot see the end, I am eager to follow, for there is a break in the alabaster clouds, a sliver of light ahead.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
How has the Lord shown you His peace? Leave a comment, or link your own post below!