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On mothering a boy

Before the days of ultrasounds and 3D imaging, I was left wondering if I would have a son or a daughter. When I became pregnant, there were no expectations of knowing until I could hear my doctor proclaim at the time of birth, “You have a boy” or “You have a girl.”

I don’t recall a secret desire for either. I just wanted a healthy baby. People told me they predicted a girl, something about the way I carried the growing life nestled under my heart. Some were convinced and gave me dresses at the baby shower given by the ladies of my church.

When I consider the morning sickness that lasted all day long, the girth of my belly, the stretch marks, the pain of labor and eventual C-section, it was all worth it. Seeing that beautiful round head as my doctor announced, “It’s a boy” veiled everything else.

The first time the nurse brought my son to the room and placed him in my arms, his eight pounds felt like the weight of the world. Realization hit me that I was responsible for this child. How could God trust me this much and was it really such a good idea?

I hoped to parent as I had been parented, with patience and kindness, lovingly nurturing my son and teaching him the ways of a world brand new to him. I failed a lot.

I was determined he would not be a shy child like I had been. I didn’t understand introversion, extroversion or personality types. What I knew was how I’d suffered from being painfully withdrawn. So I encouraged him to speak up, say hello, don’t hide behind.

One day while riding an elevator, this small boy of mine was friendlier to strangers than I was, and I knew I had nothing to do with that. This was who he was. His very own personality was blossoming before my eyes. I would discover him rather than make him into someone I thought he should be.

More than anything I wanted him to know Jesus loved him and to learn to love Him back. We went to church a lot. I read Bible stories. We talked about God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I tried to point him in the direction of the cross while being woefully imperfect at modeling Christ-like character. I prayed for him.

When it became apparent that he would be our only living child, I packed away the dolls, small china dishes, a little bed and high chair my dad made for me, things saved in case we had a daughter.

We made room for trains and guns, matchbox cars and star wars figures, drum sets and bikes that let him do tricks down our lane as he called, “Watch this, mom” over and over.

I stayed up hours at night with him to help with homework. I walked the halls of the school, confronting teachers and going to bat for him, mustering courage that didn’t come naturally to me. I fought for my son, my inner mama bear emerging if I thought he was being treated unfairly.

He grew into a handsome teenager and girls looked his way. I turned over the keys to my recently acquired, new-to-me blue Nissan Maxima so he could take his date to the prom. He never knew how often I stood at the window watching him drive away from the house, praying for his safety, that he would return home in one piece.

I tucked him into bed as long as he would let me. Sometimes after a tiring day of working a job and working a home, he’d be in the mood to talk, and I knew these were precious moments. I hope I patiently listened despite my weariness. I hope that’s what he remembers more than when I was in a rush, was frustrated or short tempered.

He became and man and chose a wife, and I knew things were going to be different for me. I determined I would love the other woman in his life. I also understood I had been displaced from being the most important one.

Years fly by, as they do. Time, distance, and circumstances have taken us on our own paths. He isn’t close enough to drop by for a cup of coffee like he once did. But when he calls, my world lights up. His laughter is sweet like honey. He probably doesn’t realize how his voice on the other end of of my smart phone is sunshine on what might be an otherwise cloudy day.

As I look back over the years since his birth, I see how his very first tottering baby steps were leading him toward independence. His first day of school, learning to drive, finding a job, going to college, all of that was designed to take my baby boy into adulthood, toward becoming a man able to stand on his own. Had I considered it, I might not have been so anxious for him to learn to walk.

After I sent my boy a picture of the birthday box I mailed on Tuesday, he texted that he had forgotten. My response was, “I remember. I always remember you, your birth, your life.”

I identify with Isaiah 49:15 where God describes his love for Zion like this:

Can a woman forget her nursing child, or lack compassion for the child of her womb? Even if these forget, yet I will not forget you.

How could I forget how he changed my life forever? How could I forget the child I loved when I only barely knew he existed? How could I forget this one who is always in my thoughts and prayers? I cannot forget.

I find it beautiful that the Creator gave us the privilege of sharing in the creation of life so we could understand on a smaller scale His magnificent, ever-faithful, unconditional love.

It’s my boy’s birthday today, and I thought of him first thing this morning, before I plugged in the peculator, before I washed my face or prepared to read my Bible. I thought of him. I can’t help but think of him. He is part of me in a way too mystifying to understand.

He has children of his own now and we have an understanding between us. His love for them mirrors my love for him. We get it, this inexplicable attachment and devotion, going deep into the heart and soul of us.

I heard this recently, that the heart has secrets no language can ever express. Indeed it does. For I will never be able to describe in words how I feel about this boy of mine.

Let it be enough to say, he is my son and I love him.

All God’s colors

{This is my monthly book review.  Thanks for listening to me to share my thoughts.}

Few experiences are as pleasant as reading to a child. It was a favorite activity when the grandchildren were young. One of them climbed into my lap, I opened the book, and memories were made.

They each one had their favorites. Cinderella and Good Night Moon were among them.

I especially like board books for little people. They can touch and handle and no one need worry that pages will tear or a book will be ruined by small hands.

All the Colors That I See, by Pamela Kennedy, is a delightful board book in a just-right small size for little fingers. It offers a bright and attractive beginning reading experience. As the title implies it is multihued. The left side pages are a single color with the color word written in the middle of the page. On the opposite side are cute illustrations, by Holli Conger, and a verse about the color with an action suggested for the child to pick out, point to, circle or count the particular shade.

“Blue sky, blue sea,
so much fun!
Count all the bluest blues
under the sun.”

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The opportunities to learn words are on every page, making it interactive and fun.  A multi-striped chameleon appears throughout the book, and God’s creativity is honored as the book ends with:

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.”
–Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV

It’s just a pretty little book with lots of possibilities. I like it and would gladly read it to my four-year-old next door neighbor. In fact, I just might.

See the source image

NOTE:   I received a copy of All the Colors That I See  provided by B&H Publishing Group, for an honest review. The book was free. The words are my very own.

 

 

 

 

Together is a good place

{This is my monthly book review.  Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts.}

Being an only child, mother had plenty of time to spend with me. She didn’t have to divide her attention between multiple children. And let’s face it, one child does not create that same work as three or four.

One of my sweetest childhood memories is coloring with my mother. She patiently sat with me and colored in the large pictures designed for the very young, a box full of crayons scattered on the table between us. Just being with my mother in a shared, fun activity provided more stability than I can probably understand.

The BIG and Little Coloring Devotional, written by Rachel C Swanson and illustrated by Jacy Corral, provides just such opportunity for an adult and a child to experience togetherness in a bonding activity. What is unique about the book is the way the pages are put together.

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On one side is an adult graphic to color. On the opposite side is a less detailed coloring page just right for a child to enjoy. The perk of the book is the written devotional captured within the adult side.

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Imagine this picture: You are sitting at the table beside your child, or someone else’s. The crayons, pencils and markers are scattered about. The child colors and you color, each of you having your own page. Both of you begin to relax into the activity, breathing deeper as you fill in spaces with brightness and beauty. Pausing a minute from coloring, you read the devotional right there on the page, never leaving the table. You let the words penetrate your thoughts. You listen as the Holy Spirit speaks.

On the other side of the book, the child is deeply involved in her activity. You notice how her page coordinates in a simple way with what you’ve just read. Now you begin to ask questions that give her a chance to talk about the topic, whether that is sadness and tears, obedience, God’s love, or seeking Jesus with the whole heart.

The two of you are now sharing time with God together. Tenderly, unhurried, simply conversational. These moments carry eternal weight as she opens her heart and you open yours.

In our busy, task-oriented culture, slowing down long enough to color a page may seem insignificant, unnecessary, or even time spent foolishly. However, whenever we slow ourselves, give ourselves permission to relax and fall into the rhythm of a leisurely pace, when we connect with another person, young or old, through our words and animation, something significant happens in the atmosphere of life. Something important that outlasts our latest project on the to-do list.

BIG and Little Coloring Devotional provides the vehicle for being together.

Give time to the people you care about the most, especially during the rush of upcoming holidays. Ask questions and listen, linger with the conversation, turn off technology and experience life together.

Being together is a good place to be. In fact, it is the best place.

 

P.S. BIG and Little Coloring Devotional is currently on sale for only $5 at Lifeway.com. Pair it with pretty pencils or markers and you have a great Christmas gift.

B&H blogger icon

NOTE:   I received a copy of BIG and Little Coloring Devotional, provided by B&H Publishing, for an honest review.  The book was free.  The words are my very own. 

Finding rabbits

A friend texted me after being away for a week. “Are you free Wednesday or Thursday.” I replied, “I can be.” Trying to be true to the promise I made to myself, I am living free as a breeze in June, going where the wind of the Spirit blows me.

My June calendar remains strangely empty, and I wonder what surprises the days hold for me.

So my friend and I went on an adventure, wandering trails, resting awhile on a bench, eating our lunch of peanut butter sandwiches, and we talked. I climbed a circular staircase inside a silo, huffing and puffing a little too much, but still making it to the top where the view was worth the climb.

Another day this week my neighbor came for a visit in the late morning. He’s three years old.

While his mother and I drank coffee and ate chocolate cookies, my little neighbor played with the old Matchbox cars he loves, the ones that have seen two generations of boys in this house. We went to the room that has the small table and chairs left from days when the grandchildren were small. I brought out the basket of tea party things, and he placed dolls in the chairs. Most of the play food was placed in front of the boy doll, his obvious favorite.

Later he and I went outside and wandered the garden in the back, looking for the rabbits. These rabbits are stone and plaster, weathered by the years, looking a little crumbly but intriguing to one who sees life through eyes of wonder and everything in it is something to be discovered. He picked a few flowers, filled a small bird bath with water, and gave the plants a drink.

Holding that small hand in mine as we walked down steps to the sidewalk, I remembered other years, other children. When my grands were small they came to our house often. There were a few years when the gardens went begging. Weeds grew with abandon as I gave my time to these precious little ones.

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I’ve never regretted that. Flowers and weeds still come and go each season, each year. But those sweet children have gotten tall and are doing grown-up things, leaving behind the dolls and tea parties.

As my little neighbor and I stopped for a moment, I reached down to pull up grass shoots from the flower beds saying to no one in particular, “I could spend all day every day pulling weeds.”

Yes, I could do that. Or I could take a small hand in mine and go look for rabbits.

 

 

Summer time and VBS

Since it is the week of VBS at Little Flock, my thoughts and prayers are there with the children and the volunteers. I cannot be part of it this year, but I am praying for them.

Here is a repost of my VBS experience a number of years ago.

Having been raised in a Christian home, Vacation Bible School, aka VBS, was as normal as hot weather and watermelon in the summer time.

At VBS I was surrounded by other children who may or may not have been churched as regularly as I was.  We invited our friends and our neighbors to come.  VBS was fun, lots of fun.  It was not like grown-up church on Sundays.  It was absolutely geared for the small fry intellect.

There were penny wars between the girls and the boys.  March Madness had nothing on the excitement of this battle of the sexes.  Each group tried to bring the most pennies and the best offering for the week.  We probably robbed piggy banks, searched under couch cushions, and begged for money from mom and dad or any other relative in sight.

I learned to say the pledge allegiance to the Christian Flag and the Bible.  They took their place in my memory right along with the pledge to the American flag.

The songs were kid songs, lively and rhythmic.  We could sing to the top of our voices, move and groove, make motions with our hands, and no one thought it was out of place for the church house.

But the Bible stories were the best.   My childhood memories are of flannel graph figures being put on a flannel board.  The figures depicted the Bible stories very visually and non-abstract so a child like me could understand that Jesus loved me and wanted to be my friend.

One year my craft was making a miniature flannel graph board and story figures.  After the week of VBS, I set up my board in the garage of our house and told the stories to the neighborhood children and anyone who would listen.

It was only natural that when I grew too old for VBS, I became one of the workers, one of the assorted volunteers needed to bring all the pieces together.  I’ve taught classes, worked with the music, and directed VBS.  I give my time so other children could have the same wonderful experiences I had.

The last couple of years at Little Flock, I’ve taught second graders, a bouncy, energetic group of boys and girls who are like little birds waiting to be fed the Gospel.  It has been such a privilege to share the stories of Jesus with these little ones.

In the months that followed the week of VBS, I have joyfully watched as some of the children in my class walked forward and publicly affirmed their faith in Jesus as their savior.  And I have witnessed the baptisms that followed.

I am so aware that the parents, Sunday School teachers, and those who weekly train and nurture this young lives are planting the seeds of salvation.  My part was small, just one week long.  But I rejoice that I had a small part in watering those seeds during a week of VBS.

Tomorrow, Vacation Bible School begins.  I anticipate hot weather, tired legs and feet, and a weary-to-the-bone exhaustion at week’s end.  If you ask me on Friday if it was worth it, I will say, “Yes, eternally worth it.”

Vacation Bible School will be held at churches all over the country sometime during the summer.  Take your children.  Be part of the volunteer team.  Make a difference in the lives of children.  Do it for the kingdom’s sake.

Resurrection cookies

Day 33 of 40 days to Resurrection day

Today’s suggestion:

Make Resurrection Cookies with a child, yours or someone else’s.

Today my friend Robin and her kiddos visit to share an activity that teaches a lesson, making Resurrection Cookies.  Then they get to eat the results.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

“One of my absolute favorite things in life is baking with my girls.  We bake cakes, cupcakes, muffins, cookies, breads, you name it.  We pick our treat, don our aprons, and get messy . . . I mean busy.

Tonight as we act silly and have fun measuring out ingredients. we also reflect on the sacrifice of Christ and the salvation He offers. The girls take turns adding ingredients and reading scriptures.  We talk about how badly Jesus was beaten and ridiculed by the soldiers, how He was given vinegar to drink when He was thirsty, how His death brought life to His children, the salty tears of the women who loved Jesus, the sweetness of His love for us, and the blood of the Lamb that washes our sins away and makes us white as snow.

The discussion was light and fun.  Memories were being made.

 After the cookies were in the oven and the door taped shut, the girls went to bed.  We sat and talked about the cookies and reflected on the ingredients and the significance of each. 

As I kissed the girls good-night I asked them to think what the cookies might look like in the morning.   I do the same as I lay my head down to sleep. 

NEXT MORNING

GOOD MORNING!  It’s time to check on the cookies!

The girls removed the tape from the oven door in excitement.  They wanted to see what had happened to the cookies overnight.  They didn’t look much different than the night before.  Curious Maddie poked the top of a cookie and crushed it.  Then Emma noticed holes in the tops of other cookies.   I cut one open and we discovered the cookies were hollow.   Before I had a chance to ask them about the empty-looking cookies, Emma smiled and said, “ah-h-h, just like the empty tomb!

 

Yes, that’s it!  The final symbolism is the empty cookie representing the empty tomb!  

The power of death could not hold our Jesus!  He has risen

As we get closer to the season of Passover and Resurrection Sunday,  I remember the importance the Israelites placed on passing stories down to their children and grandchildren.  As we talk about Jesus, we can also make memories our children and grandchildren will share with future generations. 

These cookies are easy and fun to make.  If you don’t have children in your home, make them with your grandchildren.  No grandchildren around?  Borrow someone else’s children!  The memories will be just as special for you.”

For the recipe for Resurrection Cookie, go here.

Here is a list of supplies and ingredients you will need for this project:

Supplies:
1 cup pecans
1 tsp. vinegar
3 egg whites
Pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
Zipper baggy
Wooden spoon
Mixing bowl
Mixer
Cookie sheet
Spoons
Tape
Bible

What’s your story?

Day 22 of 40 days to Resurrection day

Today’s suggestion:

Tell your salvation story to your children as you talk about the meaning of this season.

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God was very clear to Israel in His Passover instructions.  Details are important to Him.

Tucked into the directions, He repeated the command again and again to pass along their faith to the children and grandchildren.

It is just as important for us as it was for the Hebrews coming out of Egypt.  If the next generation is to know the God of glory, His Son who came to save, and the Holy Spirit who will come and live in us, then we must tell the story.

I often heard my mother and dad telling me how they came to know Jesus as Savior.  While they are both basking in the joys of Heaven now, their stories remain with me.

My friend, Robin, visits today to ask “What’s your story?”

“There is nothing like a good story, especially when you’re young.  Think about curling up next to mom or dad and listening to them read your favorite book.  My favorite childhood book was The Pokey Little Puppy.  I am sure my mompokey little puppy had it memorized by the time I was five. 

Now the tables are turned and I am experiencing the joy of reading to my daughters. There are few things better in life than snuggling up with my sweet girls sharing a story.   Each girl has her favorite book, favorite place to sit, and favorite doll or blanket to snuggle with. 

Recently Madeline started asking me to tell her stories about her Great-granny Grace.  The two never met since my grandmother passed away several years before Madeline was born.  But her legacy lives on every time I tell about sweet Granny Grace.  I know I am passing on generational stories to my daughters. 

But what else am I passing on?  What legacy am I leaving them?  What stories of my life are important enough to tell?  What mistakes do I want to warn them to avoid based on my personal experience?  What moment of pure joy do I want to relive in front of them? What are the most important experiences in my life?

I have learned the more I tell them about me, the more they want to know.   Perhaps it makes my life more tangible for them.  They hear about my childhood and realize I was once a little girl just like them.   

Telling them the story of my salvation opened up so many more doors.  They see that I had the same questions they have.  How can I know God is real when I cannot see Him?  Why does He love me so much?  Will He really forgive me when I mess up? 

Having these conversations with my girls shows them that God is real.  It let’s them see that we all struggle with faith and knowing God’s voice sometimes.  It gives them opportunity to talk about their own journey of faith.

Do your children know your salvation story?  Or your nieces and nephews?  Have you heard how your own parents came to experience saving grace?  What about your grandparents? 

Is there a better time than now to tell your story or to learn about those around you? 

As we are preparing our hearts for resurrection day, take some time to share your story.  If you have already, tell it again.  It should be your favorite story of all.”

Robin blogs at IGetUpTooEarly.
Revised and re-posted from March 2014
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