Kindness

If the words you speak to a stranger

are more kind

than the ones you share with those who gather around your table,

more sweet than the morsels you deliver to the one who shares your bed,

then, perhaps, you have good manners.

But good manners are not a fruit of the Spirit.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:23-23, New International Version, 2010) Emphasis mine


JourneysWhy is it easier sometimes to show kindness to everyone but those living under your roof? Do you have this struggle, or am I alone in uttering careless words to my loved ones that I would never say to anyone else?

Link up your post on kindness below, and please link back to my post with either a hyperlink or my button (grab the code off the sidebar). Be sure to read some of the other posts who have joined us, and show some kindness by leaving comments on the other blogs! Thank you for taking this journey with us!


Lesson Learned!

From the time my daughter was old enough to have a conscious will, she has loved beautiful and girly things. From jewelry to makeup–she loves them all–and the more colors and glitter, the better!

I was not surprised to find her one day sitting on my bathroom floor, makeup smeared all over her face, mascara wand in hand as she painted her toes. I was not surprised when I found the missing necklace from my jewelry box adorning my daughter’s neck. Nor was I surprised when I found evidence of her princess stamp set marking a trail along the bannister. My daughter believes in spreading beauty and color throughout her world, no matter if she is wearing the beauty and color or her parents’ furniture.

I was never surprised at any of my little girl’s antics. I was, however, surprised at her brother’s.

I wasn’t completely naive–I knew better than to leave little kids alone with scissors–but the combination of trying a recipe for dinner that was taking too long and a crying infant left my attention divided. Way too divided. And in a brief moment, I learned that my son would make his own attempt at beautifying the world:

I just wish he wouldn’t have made this attempt the day before his sister’s second birthday party. And I really wanted her first haircut to be, well, a good one.

I thought I learned my lesson; I figured my son was just young. He was just doing what three-year-olds do. Heck! I cut my own bangs, to my mother’s horror, when I was three. Except that he tried his hand at hair design again when he was four. In exactly the same place that he cut his sister’s hair the first time.

If I hadn’t learned my lesson before, I learned it now. Scissors were no longer put up high–they were put away all together! The only time cutting was a part of arts and crafts was when the kids’ baby sister was napping and dinner preparation had not yet commenced. If Mommy had to use the bathroom, the scissors came with her! She would not make this mistake again.

So it’s really embarrassing that this story continues….

In a quest to save money and prove that I had skill, I took my son outside to cut his hair. I really didn’t know what I was doing, so the haircut took three times as long as if I got it done in the salon. My plan to cut his hair while the baby was napping was a good one. His other sister was playing outside. And when the baby woke up, I took the scissors with me to get her.

Unfortunately, I forgot that there were clippers in my little haircut accessory pouch. My son, however, didn’t. In the thirty seconds I was gone, he found an electric outlet outside, plugged in those clippers, and took a chunk out of his hair–right in the front. And for good measure, he took out a section from his sister’s hair again–in a slightly different place from the last two times. I guess he was starting to learn about symmetry.

So, while others might see a cute picture of a boy and his father, I see that a chunk of hair is missing from his bangs.

Clearly, I do not think fast enough for my son. My tears at lost hair do not have an effect, nor does punishment. And, frankly, I’m not sure any of those things can persuade a person with a passion.

So why fight it? I’ve learned my lesson–I’m enrolling my son in cosmetology school.

I’m linking up today with Mama Kat for her writer’s workshop. I combined two of her prompts–a lesson learned and a time my toddler got into something he shouldn’t have.

Don’t forget to come by tomorrow and link up your own post on kindness for this week’s ‘Journeys!’

The Extra-Terrestrial and Other Stuff

The other night we opened our small group by having everyone share a fear or something that really freaks out him or her. Before we began, I have to admit, I felt a little proud–after all, I really only had one main fear.

Too bad that fear is kind of crazy.

You see, I am terrified of something that really shouldn’t bother me. I’ve never had any experience with this thing, nor will I probably ever. Yet, the thought of it can start my heart racing, my body tingling. I’ll stay awake at night curled in a little ball, holding onto Matt’s arm as we sleep.

But if this thing is real, Matt’s arm isn’t going to help.

No, nothing can save me if the aliens come.

That’s right; I’m terrified of aliens, so terrified, in fact, that I cannot even look up a picture to place within this blog. I tried to find a picture of a UFO instead, minus the aliens, but when the pace of my breathing quickened, I had to stop.

I know they are probably not real, and I also know that, even if they are real, they most likely aren’t coming for me. Unless they can read minds and know I’m currently typing about how afraid I am and they come for me and then they take me to the mother ship and they stick those probe thingies in my eyeballs and then they impregnate me some little alien baby that will burst forth from my stomach in four months (they grow quickly) killing me and setting forth their plan to take over the human race.

Whew.

By the time it was my turn, I had heard fears ranging from giant camel spiders in Iraq to snakes to sinking in the ocean, and I felt like I could have a panic attack. I didn’t even realize that I shared some of these fears, and I was sure when I talked of my fear of aliens to the group, I might send some of us over the edge. But everyone just stared at me and gave a polite chuckle….

I know the fear is irrational, but, nonetheless, it is real. When Matt is away on a trip and I hear a noise in the dark, my mind goes to strange places. And while fear can serve a purpose–we stay away or are cautious of unsafe environments–this fear does nothing useful.

And, unfortunately, when I really began to think about this topic, I found that I have a list full of unproductive fears:

What if my children don’t love God when they’re older, and they rebel? What if they don’t love me? What if one of them gets sick–really sick? What if something happens to Matt?

The list could go on and on. And while the above list at least covers real people in my life and lists more rationale fears, the end result is the same: the fear gets me nowhere.

And since I’m too busy to waste my time dwelling on the unproductive, I choose to place my thoughts elsewhere:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8, New International Version, 2010).

Not on snakes.

http://i226.photobucket.com/albums/dd309/KenMarsh/python.jpg

Not on spiders.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v510/lyonlover/Africa%20Pictures/100_1778.jpg

And definitely not on aliens.

(No picture available)

What frightens you? How do you overcome fear?

Assuming the Position

I watched as this thick-haired girl knelt beside him, both father and daughter bowed faced down before the Lord. I thought how my own children have never witnessed that kind of worship from me, nor do I remember seeing my own parents assume that position before the Lord.

I grew up in a liturgical church. We knelt. We stood. We sat. And then we’d kneel some more. I didn’t know the reason behind any of the positions we took, but I followed obediently going through the motions.

When I visited other churches, I viewed with skepticism those who dared to clap or raise a hand. Surely, their reactions weren’t genuine. They were doing it for show or to not be outdone by the person next to them. Even though I had no idea why I knelt or stood, those positions felt comfortable and, therefore, right.

Over time, as I was further removed from the church of my youth, I found my former worship sterile and lacking, the latter more alive. While I never waved my arms in the air, I felt more comfortable in a room where people were rejoicing through song, where they seemed genuinely in love with their God.

Yet, I still didn’t understand.

Watching that father and daughter marks the first time my eyes were opened as I closed them to worship from my heart and not from a missalette or a passing feeling. That night at church, with my husband at my side, I didn’t do what was comfortable–I did what I needed to communicate before my God.

Shachah: to kneel, face down to the ground. A position of reverence. You are God, and I am in awe.” Position of worship used 80% of the time in the Old Testament.

Barak: to kneel. A position of surrender. “You are God, and I am not.”

Yadah: to praise, a standing position. “You are God, and I wait.” Psalm 43 and Psalm 79

Halal: to praise the Lord, to clamor foolishly.  “You are God, and I praise.” Psalm 150

And what struck me about this evening as I learned the different positions of worship is how much time I have spent in church not understanding what I do or why I do it. After I left the liturgical church and really dug into Scripture, I saw the beauty and meaning behind the rituals that had seemed empty. And after Friday night, I learned that people who raise both hands in church just might not be crazy. Maybe.

And, perhaps, the church of my youth and the church of my adulthood are both right and can learn from one another. And, perhaps, I shouldn’t base my worship on what is comfortable for me but, instead, on what the Lord deserves.

I’m linking up with Michelle today. If you’ve never read her work before, click on the image above–you will not be disappointed!

And continuing with our Journeys through the fruits of the Spirit, this Friday’s link-up will be on kindness:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23, New International Version, 2010). Emphasis mine



Forbearance

I pushed open the door and stormed out of the bathroom.

“I told you to get your pajamas on! Do not come out of your room again!”

And back in the bathroom I went, trying to dry the baby while the thick, moist air clung to my skin. I listened as giggles and little feet ran down the hallway into the bedroom next door, now two pairs of feet bouncing on the bed.

I sighed. I am so tired of this. I am so tired…

And, again, the fatigue and frustration manifested itself in a torrent of temper.

“I told you to get in your room and get on your pajamas NOW!!” The words, starting in my mouth as an angry threat, morphed into a desperate plea as I grabbed children by the arms, pulling them onto the floor.

I can’t take this every day. I’m tired of feeling like a single mother who’s married.

Then following the thought, the guilt came immediately as an image of a true single mother came to mind.

And I’m tired of feeling guilty for the feelings I have. What is so hard about letting me know what time he is coming home? I dragged one kid onto her bed and shut the door.

“Chloe, let’s go!” The toddler in the bathroom followed me down the hall to her room. I laid her on the floor and grabbed the orange diaper I had set out before her bath. My eyes began to burn with hot tears, and I blinked them away as I worked the velcro tabs before me.

Once she was dressed for bed, I pulled her onto my lap in the brown rocking chair, cream cushions dingy and worn from rocking with two children before her. And I prayed. I cried. And with each prayer for Chloe, with each sway of the chair, I offered up more venom to share with him.

We rocked and rocked. I heard bedroom doors open, laughter as a mattress hit the floor. And I didn’t care. I just don’t care.

The bedtime routine dragged on as I moved from one child to the next, trying to wash away the anger I spew on them with the silent hug I could offer. As I closed the last door, I picked up bath towels off the floor, mounds of wet cloth in my arms, and headed toward momentary solace in my room.

I flipped on the light, swiftly moving toward the hamper in the bathroom, and I noticed the pile in front of it.

How hard is it to put the clothes IN the hamper? I’ll just do this, too! I shoved the towels in and grabbed the mound of white undershirts that lay at my feet.

I’m not waiting for him to eat. I’m hungry now. I’m tired of waiting until nine to eat every night.

Seven o’clock used to be late; now it’s the norm. Our Sundays aren’t sacred. When has he worked enough? When is our day?

I vomited up more thoughts; the lava of pressure and frustration was rolling down the sides of my body as I descended the staircase. I was ready for him to walk through that door, and I would be waiting. No smile, no kiss, just discontent written across my face.

I headed into the kitchen and began working on the dirty dishes in the sink. I rinsed the filth off each plate but couldn’t wash clean the grime over me. I shoved the dishes into the dishwasher, the forks and knives in their separate compartments, and I heard the garage door.

I wasn’t even going to look up. He would know I was unhappy without my saying a word. But I was ready with words, and I wanted the fight. And, yet, I dreaded the fight that I would provoke.

I wanted to yell so that I could cry, and I wanted him to hurt so that he would know how I hurt. I wanted to point out everything he had ever done wrong, every sock left on the floor, every time he hadn’t returned my call during the day, every time he had come home late from work at night. And I wanted to be vindicated. I wanted to convince him our life had to change.

I held onto the dish in the sink without looking up as he walked through the door.

“Hi.” He came over and kissed me on the cheek.

Setting his computer bag down, he wrapped his arms around my shoulders.

“Go sit down on the couch. I know you’ve had a rough day. I’ll make you some tea.”

I looked up, ready to turn around and face him, ready to rattle off the litany of offenses he had committed, but instead, I made my way to the couch.

I stared straight ahead at the T.V., not uttering a word, feeling the breath rise and fall in my chest. I listened to the clanking of tea cups, the high pitch of the kettle screaming that it was ready, the sound of forks and knives rattling in the drawer, and the wall of defenses I had built began to dissipate.

He walked over, tea cup in one hand, plate of food that had been waiting on the stove in the other, and he set them before me.

And in a rare moment of grace, I simply said, “Thank you.”

I waited until he returned with his own plate, bowed my head as he said the blessing, and rested comfortably with my husband on the couch. And, for the night, I allowed myself to forget.

22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23, New International Version, 2010). emphasis mine

Journeys

When have you displayed forbearance? What area of your life is God telling you to endure with patience?

Share your thoughts below by linking up your own post on forbearance! Copy the URL to your actual post, not just your homepage, so others can read your post related to this topic no matter the day of the week. You can link up any time through the weekend. Add my button or a link to my blog somewhere on your post, and be sure to comment on the other posts, as well. Thank you for sharing your journey with us!


Our First Date

We hadn’t gone on an official date before, at least, not that I remember, just the two of us without a sister tagging along. Time alone is difficult and precious to come by, but Valentine’s Day afforded the perfect night for dates with Daddy and the girls and Mommy and her little man.

And a little man you were. I chuckled inside every time my little 4-year-old acted more like 40.

“Do you have enough gas?”

“Yes, sweetheart. We have a full tank.”

And off we drove to Zaxby’s, apparently a sacrifice on your part, your daddy bribing you with candy while I was in the bathroom. We had moved up a slight step from Burger King.

With each bite of my chicken finger, I couldn’t help but study your face. Your sweet smile, your perfect eyes and long lashes. You’re my little boy who isn’t quite as little, anymore.

And you were happy and hungry. Our date was prolonged as you requested more food, and we talked about preschool and your day as you wiped the grease off your fingers onto the booth in which you sat.

You helped yourself to three quarters in my wallet and bought bouncy balls out of the dispenser, one for you and your two sisters. And your night was made.

My night was made a little later.

It wasn’t when you came back to your seat and noticed Mommy was without a toy. You helped yourself to my money again and bought me a necklace, a silver star hanging on a silver string that took us 15 minutes to get out of the cheap, plastic ball in which it came. You eagerly waited the rest of the night (and part of the next day, too) to place that necklace in my jewelry box.

No, you made my night, this already perfect night, on the car ride home. After we crossed the parking lot, hand in hand, you climbed over a pile of fast food bags toward your booster seat.

“Why is Daddy’s car so messy?”

“I don’t know. I guess it just doesn’t bother him the way it does you and me.”

“Why does he just throw his stuff all over the floor?…I guess he must be really busy.”

I smiled.

“Mom, I don’t want icing on my birthday cake.”

I was caught off guard by the quick transition and the request to limit the sugar on your cake.

“I don’t want the icing–I don’t like it. You can just make me a cookie cake, but no icing.”

But I don’t like icing.

I took in your words and savored them, for they gave us another connection to share as mother and son. In some ways you are like me–you worry, and people hurting breaks your heart–but we have many differences. Yet, my little man who can smell sugar in the air, has been caught with his hand in the cookie jar more times than I can count, doesn’t like icing like his mommy, either.

And for some strange reason, my heart warmed as I tucked that little detail into the storerooms of my heart.

My memory isn’t very good, but I won’t forget our first date, at least now that I’ve written about it. And while your memory is amazing, one day this date might slip from your mind, as first loves and heartaches fill the spot where it once sat.

Yet, my hope is that as you go from birthday party to party, scraping icing off the top of your cake, something inside of you will tug at your heart, reminding you of your Mommy.

I’m joining Mama Kat for her Writer’s Workshop today.

And don’t forget to come back tomorrow! Have you looked up the definition for ‘forbearance,’ yet? That’s our topic for this week’s ‘Journeys.’ Click on the tab at the top of this page for more information.

Fighting Insecurity, Finding Contentment

Sometimes, I measure my days in urine-soaked princess panties, my weeks in previously unscheduled doctor appointments. My joy and excitement come from toddlers stating, ‘Poo-poo,’ and actually sitting on the potty before the aforementioned poo-poo hits the floor, and my challenges come in the form of recipes filled with natural ingredients but not more than five steps.

My current lot in life is different than I had anticipated. If I’m honest, I’d have to say that I’m not as good at staying home with my children as I’d thought I would be. I thought I’d find more contentment, peace, but I struggle.

Part of that struggle is the comparison game that I can play mentally with other women. When I was at Matt’s company Christmas party last year, surrounded by career women, I felt insecure. While in one breath I was proud of my choice to stay home with my children, in the other I felt the need to add something to my title–I stay at home, but I also….

And while I love to write and write because it is my passion, a daily spiritual experience for me and something that keeps my mind sharp, I have to admit that there is another element to my hobby. I want to be a prolific writer, not just because I love it, but because a small part of me wants to have an accomplishment to hang on my wall, to tout before other women at Christmas parties. I’m a freelance writer, and I stay at home with my children…

When I left the workforce, I received grief from other women, as if I had somehow pushed back the advancement of the feminist movement fifty years. Now, when I tell women that I stay home, I wonder if they’re judging me, if they assume I’m unintelligent. I want to convince them that I was successful before and challenge any preconceived notions they may have formed.

Part of my problem is that I’m used to succeeding. I don’t mean that arrogantly, but I’m used to doing well at those things that I try because I’ve always worked hard. But, many days, I don’t feel success in parenting. I’m not the mom whose Facebook status update consistently reads “I love being the momma to three kids!”–but I wish I were.

Perhaps, my insecurities in front of other women stem from my insecurities in parenting. If I parented with patience daily, if I knew every day my children learned some valuable lesson from me, if I didn’t feel like I was somehow harming them with every well-intentioned choice I make, sending them on the path towards needing therapy as adults, then, perhaps, I could say more confidently, I stay at home with my children, and I love my job.

Because, if I’m honest, I find more joy–literal cheers of excitement–in my toddler pooping in the potty than all the awards I ever received in my careers. And to those without children, that idea might sound ridiculous or indicate some lack of intelligence. Sure, I’ll admit that I have lost braincells as a result of  moving out of the work force (I am the former English teacher who looked up the difference between ‘passed’ and ‘past’ the other day), but I can’t describe the warmth in my heart that I felt yesterday watching Chloe sit on that potty and the pride I experienced as her squeaky little voice chimed in, “Yay!!”

To be able to watch as my children learn the next step in becoming independent people is a blessing and privilege. So while it may seem unglamorous (and it is unglamorous), potty training is a big deal.

And so is the duty of molding and shaping my children’s hearts, teaching them to put God and others before themselves. Watching as they hung their heads in shame as they stood before their daddy, one quarter of his Valentine’s gift in their hands, the other three quarters in their tummies, was an important moment. They felt remorse on their own, and their apology came from within.

Writing is good for me, and if one day I can take my hobby and make it a career, wonderful. But I don’t want that career to form out of a need for security. I want to find contentment in the lot in life that I have now, not comparing myself to those with careers and those whom I deem better parents.

Because, while God (and my kids and my husband and everyone who reads this blog) knows that I am far from the perfect mother, I try pretty darned hard. And if every day I beat myself up over who I am not, I will miss the joy in who I am:

Their imperfect mother.

Do insecurities ever rob you of your joy in parenting? How do you achieve finding contentment in your particular lot in life?

On a completely different note, can you define ‘forbearance’ without looking it up in the dictionary? If so, give your definition below! Let’s see who are the smart ones in the group! ‘Forbearance’ is our theme for this Friday’s ‘Journeys.’ Click on the Journeys tab for more information.

A Radical Perspective

I used to read. Almost five years ago, before three babies came along and interrupted my R.E.M. every three hours, before toddlers refused to sleep in their ‘big boy’ and ‘big girl’ beds, I used to read every night before my head hit the pillow. Now, my eyes start to flutter and the windows in my brain start closing with each word I try to decipher.

Around Christmas, I started reading Radical by David Platt. I’m embarrassed to say what place my bookmark is currently holding. And while I still have two thirds of the book to go, I am amazed how the ideas I’ve read challenge me every day.

The premise of the book is that the American church has manipulated Christianity to fit with the American dream. Our religion is more about comfort than taking seriously the commands of the Bible. Near the very beginning of the book, Platt compared two different versions of how Jesus is presented in church, the modern-day feel-good gospel and the biblical gospel, and I often wonder which version I have chosen to follow:

‘”The modern-day gospel says, ‘God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. Therefore, follow these steps, and you can be saved.’ Meanwhile, the biblical gospels says, ‘You are an enemy to God, dead in your sin, and in your present state of rebellion, you are not even able to see that you need life, much less to cause yourself to come to life. Therefore, you are radically dependent on God to do something in your life that you could never do.’

The former sells books and draws crowds. The latter saves souls.”(Platt, 2010, p. 32)

I began to look at how I worship God. Where are my thoughts during church, during worship? What is my prayer life like? When I am talking to God, am I more in awe of him, or am I focused on myself?

Christianity can feel like a paradox at times. The God of the universe, all-powerful and full of hate toward sin, loves me and wants a relationship with me. He demands my worship and will punish those who don’t give it, yet He desires all to come to Him and call Him ‘Abba,’ or ‘Daddy.’

I tend to focus on the Daddy part. I like the loving God who calls me to His lap to sit and talk. I like the God who sent His Son out of love for me, who can forgive my worst sins because of Jesus’ sacrifice.

And I believe that all of those characteristics of God are true.

Yet, at times, I have focused so much on those traits, that I have turned Jesus into a self-help book. Jesus is my ‘Mr. Fix-it.’ I come to Jesus asking Him to make me a better mother, a better wife. I ask for help when we are having financial difficulties, and I ask for wisdom when deciding where to send my son for kindergarten. Every day I have my list of requests, and I eagerly await for Him to answer them.

But I forget the other side. I forget the depraved nature of my soul. I forget that God is a jealous God, demanding my full worship. I forget His warnings against sin and choose to focus on grace. I forget His call to care for the poor and share the Gospel to the ends of the earth. I forget to stand in awe.

And while I completely believe that God wants to hear the concerns of my heart, to “cast all [my] anxiety on him because he cares” (1 Peter 5:7), I also believe that one day ” every knee will bow…every tongue will confess” (Isaiah 45:23) that He is the Lord.

Perhaps if I encountered God with true awe and reverence, remembering how unworthy I am to stand in His presence, engaging in true worship, then I would see more of those changes I want to see in my life. If I truly allowed myself to see how small, insignificant I am to stand in the presence of the King of Kings, then I would realize how amazing and incomprehensible is His gift of grace and how incredible that He invites me into a relationship with Him. And if I really believed all I said, I couldn’t help but share.

I forget that Christianity isn’t about me. It’s about Him.

Perhaps, I shouldn’t venture into the next third of the book until I get this main idea down.

Platt, D. (2010). Radical. Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Books.

I’m linking up today with Michelle for her “Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday” link-up. If you have never visited her blog, you are missing out! She has the most beautiful words and pictures to accompany them–please check her out today!

And remember to come back Friday to link up for our next ‘Journeys’ topic! We will continue exploring the fruits of the Spirit, this week’s being forbearance. Click on the ‘Journeys’ tab above for more information on how to participate:

22″ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).



Learning

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23). Emphasis added

I watched as that little boy made his way to the plate, slowly, not with the same swiftness he had displayed earlier in this first practice. For a moment, I was confused as he stuck his fingers in his mouth, holding his bat with the other hand. After only a second, he jammed those fingers into the pocket of his thick, blue vest.  Back and forth his fingers would alternate between his mouth and his vest pocket, each hand having equal access to both places, and he struggled to balance the bat against his legs or in the palm of whichever hand was free.

What in the world? I thought. And then I realized what he was doing. His fingers are freezing, and his mouth is warm. Yet he continued. He pulled his hand out of his pocket and gripped the bat with both hands. He looked so small, so vulnerable. Rosy-cheeked, he stepped up to the plate without complaint, and he swung the bat with all his might.

And as I watched this four-year-old, tiny in comparison to the six-year-old giants, my heart swelled with pride each time the sound of the  bat cracked against the ball. He was determined; he was committed. And commitment doesn’t wait for warmer weather.

His daddy knows this truth. He knew that the box of tulips delivered to the door during a week when my soul felt sucked dry would speak volumes more than a dozen roses presented on the obligatory holiday.

He knew that with each petal that opened danced the words, “Thank you,” and as the sweet fragrance wafted under my nose, a heart was restored.

He knew the power of a simple gift, an unexpected treasure, and the weight it relieves. And he knew that the perfect time for the perfect gift is the present.

His daughter understands this lesson. She greeted her brother as he exited his church classroom, her toddler arms wrapping around his body, conveying pure joy in their reunion. An unexpected gesture immediately reciprocated, any rough edges immediately smoothed over. And as she moved to her sister, not knowing that this sister had just been ill, her embrace brought healing, the two girls tightly woven together, their heads resting on one another’s shoulders. They didn’t move in the middle of the hallway, and as I tried to nudge them to the side, they remained in their hug, unaware of anyone but each other. A simple greeting in the midst of a crowd, causing the world to blur in the background as the siblings came into focus.

I want to love as they love; I want to persevere without complaint, even when my days or months or years feel dark and cold. I want thoughtfulness to consume my being, simple gestures never far from mind, and never remaining a mere thought. And I want to love passionately, not caring what anyone thinks except the recipients of my affection.

I thought I knew how to love, but I have so much to learn. My teachers set the bar high.

Journeys

Now it’s your turn! What have you learned about love this week? Leave a comment below, or link up your own blog post. Grab the ‘Journeys’ button from the sidebar to link your post back to this site, and encourage others to join the conversation. Enjoy reading others’ blogs, and leave comments letting them know you stopped by today!


Back When I Was a Rookie Parent…

I have never shared this story with anyone, but it’s time….

It was the middle of the night, and Caleb was in bed with us. Perhaps, he had just finished nursing, or maybe he was having a tough night sleeping–I’m not sure–but I am very sure about the events that followed and my rookie-parent reaction.

The black of night filled our room, and the only noise was the heavy breathing of Matt as he slept. Caleb was nuzzled in close to me, resting quietly. Until, BLLAAACCH!!!

And out of nowhere, this precious little boy, around five months old at the time, threw up three times his body weight. Matt and I shot up in bed instantly. The noise–it was horrible. I swear I watched our baby’s head spin around seven times before the vomit left his mouth, gasped as I heard a splash when the throw up hit our bed.

This experience was our first with a child and vomit, and, thankfully, I had just read an article the day before from one of those parenting magazines that I won’t name (because I can’t remember). I never skipped an issue that came to my ‘Inbox’ telling me what my child should be doing at this stage in his development. I read all the articles on vaccines and child safety, and I studied which foods I could introduce to my baby when. I trusted this source. So when this magazine instructed me to have my child seen immediately if he began throwing up and was less than six months old, I took the advice seriously. And I did what any parent would do…

…I called 9-1-1.

That’s right; I hopped out of bed, handing the baby to my husband, picked up the phone in the middle of the night, and dialed the phone number reserved for emergencies. After all, this event was an emergency. My baby had thrown up, and the magazine said he needed to be seen immediately. And the only way he could be seen immediately was if I called the paramedics to rescue him.

My saving grace was that we used Vonage, an internet phone system. We had set it up when we lived in Oklahoma so that we could have free long-distance while we lived away from our family. A plus side of this service was that when we moved back to Georgia, we didn’t have to change our number. Apparently, however, our emergency services were tied to the state in which we first ordered Vonage. When I called 9-1-1, a dispatcher in Oklahoma answered.

“9-1-1, What’s your emergency (or something like that)?”

“My son just threw up, and he’s only five months old!”

Surely upon hearing my son’s age, the dispatcher would signal all the emergency personnel in the area. And in the process of explaining my emergency, we began to realize that we did not live in the same area.

During the confusion of explaining where I lived and figuring out where the dispatcher was, a cloud began to lift from my mind. I noticed the dispatcher did not seem overly concerned that my son threw up, and I decided I did not need an ambulance sent from Oklahoma. The dispatcher asked, “Is your son okay?” and through my foggy memory, I believe he offered to connect me to the correct 9-1-1 in Georgia.

I looked over at Caleb in bed with my husband, his little baby head no longer spinning, and I came to my senses: “No, we don’t need an ambulance. Thank you, Sir, but we are going to take him to get checked out.”

And, no, I did not mean in the morning. That’s right; we put on clothes, strapped that little baby in his car seat, and we drove to the emergency room in the middle of the night. After all, our baby threw up once.

Apparently, I had not yet learned about the ‘after hours’ phone line. I had never heard of such a thing, having never called my own doctor’s office after they closed. After all, if I were sick in the evening, I would just call them in the morning.

And if I were too sick to wait until the morning, I would go to the emergency room.

I didn’t realize that my child’s pediatrician had an ‘after hours’ phone line to give parent’s advice in the middle of the night. I didn’t realize they had anticipated how crazy parents, especially new parents, can act. Had I known, I probably wouldn’t have called freakin’ 9-1-1 because my son threw up once! And I probably wouldn’t have waited in the emergency room for three hours because my son threw up once…and not again the whole time we waited.

Four years later, I still don’t understand why the doctor in the ER didn’t seem more alarmed. I told him Caleb threw up at least an entire bottle’s worth of breast milk, but he didn’t believe me. He said it was probably only an ounce. I reminded him that Caleb was only five months old; he didn’t seem too concerned. But the magazine said that he needed to be seen immediately….

So we left the ER that morning with baby and anti-nausea pill in hand. But I never gave it to him. After all, he only threw up once.

The Rookie Parents

Mama's Losin' It

What’s the craziest thing you ever did as a new parent? Surely, I’m not the only freak!

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