Friday, May 25, 2012

Time slow

Hospitals and airports.  I've often thought they're the same.  Hurry up and be ready - to wait.
I experienced it yesterday, briefly.  In my world there are four kids going fast and constantly in opposite directions.  There is too much to do and there are never enough hours to accomplish it all.  I hardly have time to think a complete thought.

So I drove across the river to sit in someone else's world.  She's a mom too.  But she is waiting.  Her eight year old son is balancing on the line between this life and the next.  My world is breathless; she counts every precious breath.  My world is cluttered with lists and chores and multitasking.  Hers is stripped to the most basic essentials, air, heartbeats and the hard truths of life.  My world hums with activity, discipline, laughter and growing pains.  Hers hums with the antiseptic undercurrent of beeping machines and strangers too intimate with the physical needs of her son, halted in life.  She has a world like mine, with a husband and children, a kitchen, and laundry, and dirt-streaked tears.  But that world is waiting too while she cries in a sterile white room.  She can think a complete thought right now.  But its conclusions are painful and heavy.

Therefore we do not lose heart.  Even though the outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but the things which are not seen.  For the things that are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
II Corinthians 4:16-18

She asks me about my little son, knowing from experience some of the medical jargon he's had to endure already.  I don't think she should be worried about my kids while hers is the one in the hospital bed.  But she encourages me before I have to walk away.  We look into eternity for a minute together, sharing the same world of heartache for our children born different.
"In heaven, the real bodies that God gives them will probably run faster than everyone else's, since they will never have gotten to run on earth."  I smile at the thought.
"Oh, and my son's going to be so tall and handsome I bet he'll take my breath away." She savors the joy.
My phone rings, my busy world is calling me back.
I went to bolster her spirit, but as I leave my own is challenged.
We look forward to heaven, to seeing things for real.  The murkiness of this life is cloudy in my busy, breathless world.  But she, in her stark waiting world, is able to peer through to eternity, to see a glimpse of the real and beautiful life waiting on the other side.  And she shared the glimpse with me.  I am so blessed she and I could share a moment of worlds colliding.  But hers is so heavy, it smarts where it hits.
It hurts to think of her mommy heart aching tonight as she stares at the beeping monitor with the wavy lines, blurred by tears, waiting.  My own monitor is on the counter, unceremoniously surrounded by scraps of supper waiting to be cleaned and to do lists and a plastic dinosaur.
Someday there won't be monitors.
Or hurt.
Or waiting.
Or breathlessness.

There will be rest.

Come soon, Lord.

Monday, May 21, 2012

When it rains...

Cranky children.
What is wrong?
Is it silly to go to the Emergency Room on a Sunday afternoon with a miserable toddler - alone, with his three brothers in tow?  His temperature is soaring, but I can't get a thermometer near him.  There's goo draining out of every hole on his face.  I'm running out of tissues.  Maybe I should skip the ER and go stock up on white goods at Walmart instead.  Not sure which would be easier.
We make it through the night on Tylenol - what's left of it after the baby opens the child-proof cap and dumps the sticky purple liquid over his pajamas and the bedroom rug. Somehow he manages not to drink it.  I sleep lightly; holding my breath for the next illness to strike in the wee hours.  

Puffy brothers.

Seven a.m.  A four year old comes down the stairs to greet me; I do a double take behind my coffee.  His face is so puffed up he can barely see through the slits where his eyes used to be.  His older brother follows, looking similar.  Who are these children and what do I do with them?  When the three year old appears, still grabbing at his ears and fussing, all productive plans for the day go out the window.
So much for doing homeschool lessons this morning.  And laundry.  I need to share the misery with someone paid to listen to me.

I call in the big guns - grandma joins us at the clinic to hug babies and take the attention off the frazzled mother with snot on her shoulder.  I try to remember everyone's birthdays in order.  If I get it wrong, will you still see him?
Henry's batting a 101 temperature average and an ear infection.
Shiloh and Gavin must have reacted to the sunscreen from yesterday.  We won't use that brand again.  Gavin also has pink eye.
Oh, and Shiloh has a rock in his ear.  Yes really.
And don't let the baby chew on his toes anymore.  He can't feel them and is losing skin and toenails.
I wonder if we are the patients they talk about around the water cooler after we leave.

Thanks, Grandma.  You survived admirably.  Would you like a pebble for a memento?  Shiloh kept it warm for you.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


It isn't buttercup season yet at our home.  It is dandelion bouquet season.  I have received several this Spring from my little sticky fingered admirers.  What simple beauty and such lessons a simple weed can reveal to me!  What a joy to accept these gifts! 

Lesson of the Buttercup

Look at this buttercup as it begins to learn its new lesson.
The little hands of the calyx clasp tightly in the bud round the beautiful petals;
In the young flower their grasp grows more elastic -
Loosening somewhat in the daytime, but keeping the power of contracting,
Able to close in again during a rainstorm, or when night comes on.
But see the central flower, which has reached its maturity.
The calyx hands have unclasped utterly now - 
They have folded themselves back, past all power of closing again upon the petals,
leaving the golden crown free to float away when God's time comes.

Have we learned the buttercup's lesson yet?  
Are our hands off the very blossom of our life?
Are all things - even the treasures that He has sanctified -
Held loosely, ready to be parted with, without a struggle,
When He asks for them?

- Quotation from A Blossom in the Desert. Reflections of Faith in the Art and Writings of Lilias Trotter.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Not just for ladies

Of course I do this every day.  Don't you?

What, my son?
And what, son of my womb?
And what, son of my vows?
Do not give your strength to women,
Nor your ways to that which destroys kings.

I've read Proverbs 31 a few times in my life.  The woman described in the second part of the chapter is rather famous for being an incredible wife and mother.  She's incredibly challenging to emulate, in fact!  She sounds almost too good to be true - buying fields and vineyards, never sleeping, holding spindles, making her kids wear scarlet snowpants, and dressing herself in purple tapestries and honor.  Wouldn't your husband love to see you in the kitchen dressed just in strength and honor?  Smirk.
I'm not going to focus on this wonderful lady just now.  There's no shortage of great commentary about her out there.  There is more here than just a how-to lesson for being a mother's idealist dream wife for her son.

It is not for kings to drink wine...
Lest they drink and forget the law...
Open your mouth for the speechless, 
In the cause of all who are appointed to die.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And plead the cause of the poor and needy.

Something struck me this Mother's Day morning.  This whole chapter wasn't just written for wives and moms.  Actually, it was from a mom to her son.  (Her son just happened to remember it in later life, just happened to be one of the wisest men ever to walk the earth, and just happened to write a lot of good stuff that ended up in the most read Book in the world.)  Coincidence, purely.

I don't know when this momma told these things to her son.  Maybe he was a boy, scribbling chariots and horses in the dirt while she talked to him.  Maybe he was a teenager, and she'd noticed his distraction when a giggling group of young ladies walked by on their way to the town well.  Maybe he had already been crowned king in his father's stead and was humbly feeling his insufficiency for the great job before him.  Maybe she saw his desire wandering after women who were not his wife, his true love.  Somewhere along the line, the mom heart knew her son would be drawn after the "ways which destroy kings."

[The king] shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses...
Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself."  
Deuteronomy 17:16, 17

Solomon gathered chariots and horsemen... The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones... Also Solomon had horses imported from Egypt... But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh... Solomon clung to these in love.  And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart.
1 Kings 10:26-28, 11:1-3

It destroyed his kingdom and his family.

Solomon should have listened to his mommy.

Children do hear their mothers.  They must learn to speak for the speechless, to be champion for the helpless, to find a wife worth more than her weight in rubies - and treat her that way.
Of course, mom will still love her son, even if he stumbles or forgets her lessons.  Its just not that rewarding to say "I told you so," when it costs your son his kingdom.

Still, if your grown son calls you up one day complaining that his wife is running around in purple linen tapestries and chattering about buying a vineyard, take it as a compliment.  She's just trying to be the ideal daughter-in-law.  And tell him to read Proverbs 31.  After all, its not just for the ladies.

"My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw.  All I am I owe to my mother.  I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual, and physical education I received from her."  
- George Washington

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


This is not my window.  But it would be nice.
Dawn grey sky in the East.
The mourning dove on her post
Placidly greets the day.
The fox trots the old rail line,
Unhurried, headed home.
He stops
Twitching an ear
At the slowly waking world.
The path, worn by people and pets
To the unused track,
Leads also to his burrow.

The floor is cold.
The coffee warm.
Lists begin in my head.
I feel the day
Weighted with its potential.
Busyness crowding out the stillness.
The quiet grows loud
As thoughts roar through my head.
Much I should do,
Some I could do,
Plenty I will do.
Clutter betraying the sweet stillness.

Soon the day will break
All over me
Like a salty wave crowding the beach.
But this day
He has made it,
Already I forget
To give it back.
The patter of little feet
Signal the gleeful awakening
Of noise and duty.
Like trusting Spring flowers out my window
I stretch toward the Son for life today.