Wonder

I’m linking up with The Gypsy Mama for her “Five Minute Friday.”The rules: Write for five minutes flat without tweaking or editing.

 

 

GO:

We lay in bed, two separate twin beds, three children crammed in sleeping bags between our beds, at the foot, beside us. And I looked over in that dark room at you, a tall man in that small bed, and you said, “You can come over here.”

And I excitedly climbed over kids to cuddle next to you, if only for a minute before we drifted to sleep. In wonder I lay as you wrapped your strong hands around me, wonder that you who had driven until three in the morning, tired and uncomfortable, loved me so much that you would exchange a good night’s sleep for a sleep holding your wife.

It was then that I knew how much you truly loved me; it was then that I knew I would be safe in your arms forever.

STOP:

We are on vacation for a long weekend, but I figured I could muster five minutes of writing! I was very distracted by a two-year-old who has suddenly developed separation anxiety–as in I cannot be more than 24 inches away from her at any given time without a meltdown ensuing. Nevertheless, I wrote what I could, and I look forward to reading and commenting on your posts later this weekend. Thank you for stopping by!



 

 

Light Sabers and Smiles: A Poem for My Son On His Fifth Birthday

The sky was clear, the sun was warm,

his excited friends came to see

the little boy born five years ago

who made his family three.

His mother had held him with one arm

in a ball against her chest,

she marveled at the quickness of time,

her ‘baby,’ a boy full of zest.

His daddy was eager for this moment,

his son now interested in these

relics of his own childhood

chocked-full of  memories.

The air was full of laughter,

children in boisterous play,

sword fighting, ice cream, and plenty of cake

all made for the perfect day.

But for his parents this day was for giving

thanks to God up above

for with this child born five years ago

they learned the true meaning of love.

Happy Birthday, Caleb! We are so proud of you–your compassionate heart, your thirst for knowledge, and your infectious laugh. You make our hearts smile!

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.

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!


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Love Is…

Love is falling asleep in his arms on the couch.  After days of going and going and going, constantly moving past one another, our minds moving even if our bodies are not, a moment of embrace on the couch, struggling to fit with a dog who refuses to share, warms my heart that can run cold. Even though the universe doesn’t count the three hours of sleep in the den, and we both face insomnia in our beds at one in the morning, I have found rest.

Love is doing the mundane to preserve something beautiful.  A mop to the dirty floor because he said he would, even though he was tired, and the day was long.  A mop to the dirty floor while I washed clean in the shower, a gesture that spoke volumes, sacrificing his own rest so that I could.

Love is our hands clasped across the body of our daughter who snuggled her way into our bed and found rest.  Love is a warm breakfast on a rainy morning. Love is the giving and receiving, the sacrifices and the blessings, the mundane and the extraordinary, the simple pleasures and the precious treasures.  Love is looking in his eyes and finding rest.

It is so good to be in love.

Unblurring the Line

Jennifer Vignola Davis and Jennifer Escoe Holt--Feb. 24, 2000

It all started on February 24, 2000.  A silly girl and her friend, donning black leather and leopard print pants and sparkly shirts, performed moves of which no one thought they were capable while lip-syncing to the band Heart.  A silly boy, packing up his guitar and Power Point slides after a night of leading Worship, drove an extra hour back to college in the hopes of seeing this silly girl in her moment of glory.  He missed the performance, but he saw her face light up after winning first prize.

And thus began their first date, a night when they went out with friends but only noticed each other in the room…

if you’d like to read more about that blurry line between friendship and romance, commitment and existence, click here and visit me as I share my first guest post at the sweet SomeGirl’sWebsite.

In Sickness and In Health

As I walked up to the kitchen sink this morning, I was taken aback by the number of little plastic cups and fat medicine tubes covering the bottom.  I had cleaned everything in the sink before I called it a night, hadn’t I?  And almost as soon as I had had the thought, I remembered that Wendy gave Emmett two more rounds of medicine since I had gone to bed, one at two and the other at six a.m.  Now, a little after eight, I was adding my contribution to the pile.

I immediately felt a weariness for her, as I realized that ‘catching up’ on housework during Emmett’s chemotherapy weeks wasn’t a realistic possibility.  With a bouncing boy demanding her undivided attention when she was home, lesson plans and grading that would start to accumulate as the new semester began, and the typical chores that keep any wife and mother from feeling like she has any free time, Wendy already had a full plate.  Add to her schedule doctor’s appointments and middle-of-the-night meds and feedings, and I could only imagine her level of physical fatigue, not to mention emotional and spiritual, as well.

Before I arrived in Nashville for these few days with Wendy and Emmett, my mind began to ponder something Emmett had written earlier.

It was a blessing to get ringside seats at my brothers wedding, but I listened to the exchange of vows with a new perspective on things. “through sickness and through health” took on a new meaning. I was touched by how we pledge through sickness first, which is the hardest time to love, especially when sickness can be so long reaching, and can disrupt things for an incredibly long time. (Emmett 8/3/2010)

I, too, had to taken the vow to love someone in sickness and in health, yet I know now that I had no idea to what I was committing eight years ago.

When I got married, I was under the misconception that if I loved someone with all my heart, promising to nurse him through sickness would come naturally, with a willingness because of that love.  As a young woman at just twenty-two, I couldn’t imagine what that kind of sacrifice would entail, but I was sure that my love for Matt would make me better than I am if that time should arise.  I realize now that I was wrong.  Loving someone doesn’t make me a better person; instead, his love for me gently points out all my imperfections, showing me exactly how far I have to go.

Since I’ve been married and have had children, I have become more acutely aware of the naturally selfish tendencies within me.  Yes, I willingly make many sacrifices for my family, but more often than I’d like to admit, I know my mind focuses on the word ‘sacrifice’ instead of seeing my action as an offering of love.  And the more Matt  and my children love me unconditionally, the more I am aware of my shortcomings.

When I look at Wendy and Emmett and contemplate the words that they share through their own journey, I am inspired.  They share so openly and honestly about their own struggles with faith and love, and, at times, I feel ashamed for my own feelings.  They are experiencing a hell on earth, yet their focus is to show others a glimpse of heaven.  Their trust in Jesus with their lives is amazing, and I want that faith.  I want my focus to shift from inward to heavenward so that my life emulates Christ, no matter the circumstance.

I don’t want to be selfish.  I want to pray as Wendy prays: Lord, make me more like you, but do it gently, for I am weak (Wendy 8/16/2010).  As much as I’d like to think that my love for Matt would enable me to care for him in a time of sickness, I know it is not enough.  I know I am weak and that I easily weary.  Instead, I need the love of a Savior who illuminates my imperfections and gently carves away at them, filling the void with Him.  I need to be filled with more of Him and less of me.

I came here for a few days to offer a hand to Wendy, but instead, she has helped me.  She is a beautiful picture of the love of Christ poured out for those He loves.  And I pray that as I drive away tomorrow from this family covered in devotion to one another, their example would serve as a reminder for all that I need to allow God to change in me.

Please join me in praying for Wendy and Emmett and their young son Quinn.  You can follow their amazing journey of faith through Emmett’s battle with cancer at teamemmett.com.

The M.O.B Society (Mothers of Boys) was also gracious enough to allow me to contribute to their site today.  I would love if you would stop by and say ‘hello.’

Mothers of Boys

Finding a Moment of Thanks

As I woke up this morning, I immediately was thankful for a new day.  To say that almost all of the 24 hours of yesterday was horrible would not be that much of an exaggeration.  Even after the day should’ve been over, Hannah Grace repeatedly came downstairs while Matt and I tried our best to unwind; she didn’t go to bed until 11.  Chloe cried on and off all night until Matt gave up and brought her in bed with us.  She became our first child to roll out of our bed and onto the floor, giving me a mild heart attack in the middle of the night.

As I struggle through exhaustion this morning, I look back on yesterday and still do not know what I should’ve done differently.  The two oldest were blatantly defiant all day. They didn’t merely find trouble numerous times; they repeatedly sought it out, doing the same wrong things over and over.

By 6:00, I was done.  I was hot, and after hearing ‘no’ and that my children no longer loved me numerous times during the course of the day, I was physically and emotionally tired. It was 86 degrees in our house, thanks to the energy-saving plan I chose to participate in during what will surely go down as the hottest summer on record, and Caleb was sitting on the step, refusing to go up to his room as I had asked.  I had no more energy and no more ideas–I had already taken away every privilege I could remember–and Matt wasn’t going to get home for another hour-and-a-half.  I felt like I was going to lose control in any moment, and I didn’t want to.

In the middle of the floor where I was sitting on my knees, I grabbed my face and squeezed my eyes shuts.  I started to pray a desperate prayer: God help me. Show me what to do!  I don’t know what to do! I sat silent with eyes still closed waiting to hear an answer.  I heard nothing.

And when I looked up and saw my son still sitting on that step, laughing with his sisters, the rage boiled within me. “Go upstairs NOW!” I yelled louder and longer than even I knew I was capable.

Chloe cried, Caleb looked at me in shock, but Hannah Grace’s reaction I will never forget.

She smiled, not a mocking smile, but a genuine smile.  And in the softest voice, she spoke the kindest words I have ever heard:

“Mama, I like you.  I like you, Mama.”

Somehow, this little girl no longer seemed like a little girl, almost three.  She sounded like a wise teacher, a teacher who knew exactly what her student needed to hear.

She walked over to where I was sitting and put one hand in mine, the most gentle touch I have ever felt. “I love you, Mama,” she said, emphasizing her choice of word, and then she kissed me on my lips while wrapping her arms around my neck.

The other children noticed and began to follow her lead.  Chloe toddled over and opened her mouth.  She kissed me, leaving a trail of wet all over my mouth, totally disgusting and totally wonderful.  She wrapped her baby arms around me, surprising me by the actual hug she was giving.  Then Caleb got off the stairs.  He came, adding his embrace to that of his two sisters.  I could hardly balance, three children hanging on me at the same time.  As Caleb pulled away, he, too, kissed me on the lips.

Chloe toddled back to the steps, Caleb following behind her, but Hannah Grace remained. Taking her soft hands, she gently slid them down my cheeks and said, “I love you, Mama.  I really love you.”  She continued to repeat her words, cupping my face, as if trying to ensure I believed her.

A few, short minutes later, I was still waiting for God to tell me what to do, as the disobedience continued.  The night ahead was long, and I didn’t get the rest I needed. However, in that brief moment on the floor, God answered my prayer, differently than I had hoped, but in the way He knew I needed.  My spirit was lifted as I had never experienced before, and for that, I am thankful.

Starting today, I’d like to use Fridays as a way to reflect on the week and find at least one specific thing for which I can be thankful.  I’d love for you to join me, as well! You can list your thanks in the comment section or provide a link for your own post.  We’ve all had different kinds of weeks, some wonderful, some stressful, but let’s all choose to end them the same–thankful.

A Poem to My Daughter

I was nervous before your arrival.

The frustrations and fears I was carrying as I carried you–

could that tension pass onto you?

You didn’t give me time to think–

sudden pain, a few pushes, and then

perfection.

Your sweet cry, little fingers and toes,

I loved you before I knew you.

With each month that passed, reassurance came.

While craziness circled around us,

you exuded peace and calmed my soul.

Each night we rock, each night I feel your little hand on my side.

You have grown, filling my lap and my heart.

As I count my blessings, I remember your smile,

a smile that has filled my chest with warmth and peace

when I have felt undeserving.

You, who I didn’t know,

completed the picture.

Each day I drink of the joy on your face,

and I find the desire to begin again,

the desire to face the day anew, washed clean of yesterday,

determined to hug a little more and frown a little less.

The lessons from a baby well-received

as you trust me, relax in my presence, giving

your Smile, God’s grace to His daughter,

a mother, humbled by His wonderful gift.

Happy Birthday to my sweet Chloe.  You are my treasure!

The Haircut

I debated whether or not to write this post.  I mean, what’s so interesting about a haircut?  But this event hasn’t left my mind since it happened three nights ago.  When a thought stays with me this long, I know either God is trying to tell me something, or I have another writing topic brewing.  Obviously, I decided I had a topic brewing.

For Christmas, one of the gifts from my mom was a set of kids’ hair clippers.  Initially, I was a little surprised.  I didn’t ask for hair clippers, and I wasn’t sure if she were insinuating something.  Yes, my son’s hair was covering his eyes and, frankly, was kind of a mess, but in a cool way, of course.  Once I decided how I should feel about this present, I made use of it (my mom assured me that she wasn’t insinuating anything.  She thought they would come in handy since I had a son and was always looking for ways to save money.).

After learning everything I needed to know about cutting hair from the ten minute video, I proceeded to give Caleb a trim; however, his hair was too long for the clippers.  I went straight for the scissors and did a decent job.

Feeling confident and anxious to try the clippers (I watched the video twice–I was an expert), I told Matt I should cut his hair.  He needed a haircut, anyway, and I would save us money.  He agreed.

So a few nights later after the kids were in bed and all the chores were finished, Matt sat down in a chair in the kitchen with a bright blue smock around his neck.  Matt proceeded to explain that he wanted a ‘fade’, and we discussed the strategy for cutting his hair.

I looked over the written directions for this particular style and contemplated whether or not I should put back in my instructional DVD.  After going over the plan with Matt a couple more times, we decided I was ready.  I let Matt adjust the guard setting and got to work.

As I moved the clippers up the back of his head and watched his hair fall to the floor, I was gripped with a sudden realization–I didn’t know how to cut hair.  I felt a twinge of panic as I looked at the clock that read 10:30.  If I messed up, Matt had no recourse.  He would have to go to work in the morning with whatever style I gave him.

Matt must have already dealt with this scenario in his mind because he did mention that if I messed up, he would completely buzz his head.  This option was not one that I was willing to accept.

An hour later, with some guidance from Matt (he grew a little weary of my apprehension and aggressively used the clippers on himself at one point), I finally achieved ‘the fade.’  We played with different guard settings, and I used the scissors to trim and blend until I was satisfied that I had achieved the look.  Or to put it more accurately, I cut until I was afraid to cut Matt’s hair any shorter.

I have to admit that I did a good job.  Matt’s hair looked normal, and I had reached a milestone in my life.  I could now give my family haircuts.

However, this pride was not the feeling that has stayed with me for the past three days.  Instead, gratitude has consumed me.  When I think of last Sunday night, I can’t help but remember one of the thoughts that entered my mind: “Matt and I are truly a married couple.”

Many times when I have said, “Well, you can tell we’re married,” I wasn’t paying Matt and me a compliment. We may have been snipping at each other at the time, or I was commenting on our lack of romance as we fell asleep on the couch for the seventh Friday in a row.  What I felt Sunday was different.

Here I was cutting my husband’s hair when I didn’t know how, yet Matt trusted me.  Or maybe he didn’t, but he was giving me the chance to try.  It was really strange, but I felt that we were sharing an intimate moment as I ran the clippers across his head.

I’m sure Matt will read this post and think that he has a crazy wife.  It was a haircut, not a religious experience, yet for me, it was more.  I felt comfort in our marriage and knew that we had moved beyond the early years when we were still trying to figure out how to live in this new union, still slightly embarrassed to make a mistake in front of the other person.

Let’s be honest–had we been just dating, this incident would not have occurred.  I have to have complete trust in a person in order to let him or her cut my hair.  In fact, I experience a case of nerves any time I try a new stylist, so I feel privileged that Matt let me experiment on him.  I, also, have to have complete trust in a person to willingly set myself up for failure.

The last three nights that Matt has come home I couldn’t help but look at his hair and smile.  I am grateful for a partner who is willing to let me fail, and on his own hair, no less, and I am blessed that we are “truly a married couple.”  Maybe God has been trying to talk to me after all….

And, no, Matt.  Even though we shared this intimate moment, you may not cut my hair next.