Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What I Saw

The moment we become a mother we begin envisioning the future quite differently with more intricate details and perhaps more colorful drama. How is it that even when we are still snapping Carters onesies together, we have images of our son running down the field in a high school football game or our daughter in a big white gown dancing with some faceless young man? In those late night feedings, we are wondering what they will look like, what their personalities and preferences will become, what our relationships will grow into and praying with every rock of the chair that they will love us then the way they seem to in that quiet moment of the night. A few weekends ago, I witnessed a favorite pair of parents relish in one of these dreams come true for their sweet daughter. What I saw will be my hope, my inspiration, my prayer for the years to come.

I saw the beauty which births from waiting. This bride is incredibly pretty by every definition but with ALL of her in God’s hands, He creates a beauty that transcends the physical. There is an essence of purity that sets this kind of beauty apart leaving all who notice, captivated and curious. I saw it during the ceremony, in every wonderful picture and in her playfulness on the dance floor with her family and her new husband. This young woman is comfortable in her own skin. I imagine for her it didn’t come easily or quickly. My guess is that it’s the harvest of her spending hours and hours in His Word, in His Presence and in pouring out her heart to Him. It comes by choosing again and again to be teachable and submissive and by honoring, respecting and listening to the authority of her parents and most importantly, her Savior. Her beauty comes from waiting on the God in whom she trusts wholeheartedly. Oh, to say that about Julia one day- that on the occasion of her wedding, that her first Love will still be her first Love and that because of her impassioned devotion to Him, the beauty she displays will be, forever, untainted by this world. What a gift it would be to see her delighting in being who her Father designed her to be and loving with abandon the family and husband God gave to her.

I saw love. The groom was whipped. Since I never arrive at a wedding in time to get the best seat, I usually study the groom during the bride’s processional. With a grin as wide as the sanctuary, he saw nothing else but his girl, his bride, his in-just-a-few-minutes wife. I also watched the brother, who knew, or maybe didn’t know, things were about to be very different. I saw him “keeping it together” as he watched his sister make that much anticipated walk. Other than the fun he had on stage with his family, from where I stood, he played a quiet supportive role for the rest of the evening. Their brother-sister history was unmistakable in every marvelous way.

I saw a lovely tapestry of answered prayers-- countless threads of petitions offered up to a personal God, and the result...... an awe-inspiring display of His creative fingers in the form of a family of four......and in a new one beginning. And so here, I believe, is the key. Prayers. Hours of them. Honest ones. Bold ones. Specific ones. Maybe even desperate ones. I was able to hear words spilling from the hearts of faithful parents overflowing with joy and gratefulness because they have found God steadfast and kind in caring for their children just as they asked Him to do. Their belief that He will never disappoint stands firm. I will pray and I will ask boldly that our tapestry will be as full and rich and vibrant as we commit to place “all kinds of prayers and requests” before the Father on behalf of Julia and Brighton. As they walk from our home to their new one, may we be able to celebrate and wrap them in that beautiful tapestry of countless threads of answered prayers. I will ask that our delight and thankfulness would follow them out the door instead of having to drag regrets and hurts behind them.

For His glory to be displayed as it was that evening a few weekends ago, the years this family has spent together have been genuine and prayerful. Affirmations of His mighty hand abounded in this joyful celebration of the marriage covenant. I was encouraged not to grow weary in well doing in this ever-changing adventure of raising children. I was able to see a simple concept I hear myself telling Julia and Brighton often-- God’s ways work. The family I watched isn't perfect, but, that magical night, the evidence of this family loving God deeply and trusting His righteous ways was like “the first gleam of dawn, shining brighter till the full light of day”. Because He shined, they shined.

I pray, Father, it may be so for my family as we live out the years You give to us.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Well-Worn Path

Of course I knew he would learn to read. At the beginning of the school year, he was sounding out the obnoxious but helpful Bob Books, but it has always been a stretch for me to call that reading. Bob Books are to reading what “Chopsticks” is to playing the piano. I haven’t pushed him. I’ve been scared out of my wits to prod him towards “Pup in Cup” or “Green Eggs and Ham”. See, I would manage throughout the remainder of my life if he

never memorized what 7+5 equals, but if I do something stupid and turn him off regarding reading, well, that would be just tragic. I may never recover. (Please hear SOME of my sarcasm here. Some.)

By the grace of God, he showed some interest a couple of weeks ago and I pulled out One Fish, Two Fish...... you know, that one. Pie. Easy. Wow. Since then, he has started trying to read words wherever he finds them. Now, he’s been doing that for a year or more but not when the words are all strung together in sentence form. The letters he now sees finally form fluent sounds in his brain and hit the air as actual words and not staccato vowel/consonant sounds. I remember being amazed when it happened to Julia. Words for which I knew we had studied no phonogram or “rule” would just roll off her tongue. When it is solely your responsibility to pass this milestone, there is call for celebration.

I had been saving a book for quite some time for this very occasion-- the occasion of his walking, no jogging, down the well-worn path of all the sounds, letters, words and stories he has heard from infancy. All the day, the book was in plain sight, wrapped only to create curiosity and a tad of anticipation. Of course, all day several times that day, he had to know whose it was and when did he get to open it. “Tonight. Just me and you. On the couch.”

All day I was a bit nervous about his reaction. I know this kid. He’s the one that caused me to come up with the brilliant idea of serving up very hot or very cold drinks for reading time. (Last WAY longer) He’s the one who always feels the thickness of the right side of the book in my lap trying to calculate how much longer he has to suffer. He’s the one who can find 27 different ways to sit by me while we read. He’s the one who never can seem to get the blanket “just right” and seems to be wrestling with an octopus under it while we read. But he’s also the one I’ve seen show strong emotion when he sat still long enough for the story to lodge in his heart.

Once on the couch that night, he unwrapped the book. “The Adventures of Little Bear” by Else Holmelund Minarik. His first reactions were to the fact that it was a hardback book-- a semi-thick one at that. He turned it over and over, flipped the pages as his dimple “dimped”. Suddenly, he started scooting off the couch yelling for Julia. “Look! Julia, look! I’ve got a big book like you read!!” With a smile that could possibly depict everything sweet and thrilling about childhood, he held it proudly in front of his chest for her to see. She must have gotten a little too close. In an instant, the sparkling grin vanished and he shot his eyes over at me, “It’s MINE right, Momma?”

Of the five timeless chapters that hadn’t changed since I was six, he read the first one. His smile came back. He was proud. He could read.

Now, if we could just do something about the “Captain Jack Sparrow” base running.......

In Neverland

Margo Dean's rotations of ballets landed on Peter Pan this year in which Julia's class got to romp around the stage as the Lost Children of Neverland. She and her friends had a ball as you can tell from the pictures. I can't say I was thrilled with the costume, but I am a girl so it's kind of expected, but Jeff revealed strong opinions every time a class would come out in a darling tutu or feminine gauzy skirt. "Now, why couldn't she be wearing THAT?" Their costumes may have been the, hmmm........... most interesting but these girls definitely had the most fun.

Her moment of fame-- accidentally shooting Wendy with an arrow.

Watching from the Lost Children's "Home Sweet Home"

Friday, May 14, 2010

That Kind of Day

I assure you, I suffer no grand delusions that I am the lone momma when it comes to executing days like these. One of my highest aspirations in life is that they happen about once a year. It's May-- almost half way through. We'll see. I'd hate to be a show-off.

Made dinner for a friend who had surgery.

Gave spelling tests.

Attended Family Educator Morning at the Kimbell Art Museum.

Became drenched in torrential downpour after Kimbell.

Drove home to get rain paraphernalia while kids ate would-have-been picnic in the car.

Attended Apple Store One to One.

Purchased Starbucks for same friend who had surgery.

Visited friend to deliver dinner and coffee.

Returned library books to prevent fines that could potentially wipe out our life savings.

Acquired “theatrical pink” tights for Julia at the ballet store for that night’s full dress rehearsal.

Bought table cloths for a lunch for 75 on Sunday.

Stopped at friend’s house to do make-up for full dress rehearsal.

Delivered Julia and friends to the bowels of Scott Theatre-- risking our lives to cross busiest intersection in Fort Worth.

Grabbed a not so nutritious bite to eat with Brighton.

Stopped by Target for bread and eggs.

Picked up Julia and friends at Scott Theatre.

Dropped off friends.

Home. Finally.

Fed semi-nutritious snack.

Tucked kids.

Prepared necessary coffee so I could be awake when Jeff got home.

Heard 5 minutes later:

B from his bed: I need help!!!!!!

From the couch: What’s the matter, B?

B: My CD is skipping and I don’t want to get out of bed!!! The noise is ANNOYING!

From the bottom of the stairs: Can you help me understand WHY you don’t want to get out of bed?

B: Because I am TIRED!! You KNOW what kind of day I’ve had!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Picture Like This

Well, that’s my Mom’s Mother’s Day present. My brother will give it to her some time today and I, hopefully, will be on the phone listening as she opens the large, flat package. When I was home in October, we snuck around and snapped it on our way out to Sunday lunch. I adore the picture. We took, oh maybe, 20 or 30 in a matter of minutes and most of them were normal smiles, some were camera smiles (delete, delete), but there was this wonderful series of genuine laughing. It’s sad I cannot tell you what caused these giggles but it had EVERYTHING to do with my brother, as usual. As I looked through all of the photos, this was my favorite and I imagined it would be the one my parents would love to see every time they walked through their door.

Mom, I look at this picture and can’t help but grin. I think of that house in the background and remember when it was being built amongst the skinny pine trees...... and layers and layers of pine straw. When we moved in that Christmas, I was one year younger than Brighton is now- my entire childhood before me. I spent many bedtime hours looking out from those two upstairs windows on the right and because of the all the time I spent outside, I know that yellow house with the red roof from every angle. Never in all my exploring, sun bathing, dam building, endless games of “keep away”, poison ivy mishaps, minnow catching or dirt bike adventures did I ever imagine a picture like this......... with these four children, these beautiful cousins growing up a thousand miles and a childhood apart , looking like their parents, calling you and Daddy "Nanna" and "Papa", loving you so much in spite of miles or familiarity and laughing, still, at my big brother, Blake.

I can imagine you think this is a lovely sight. It is to me, too. God alone put all this together-- from you and Daddy in little chairs in Sunday School at Conyers First Baptist to these four blessings in the pine straw in front of a yellow house. Praise be to God whose creativity of knitting families together leaves me speechless. Well, almost.

Happy Mother's Day! I love you as best as one from a thousand miles away can!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

At the Ol' Ballgame....With My Child

I’m hooked and I don’t care. I knew I would be. It was just a matter of time.... a few years...... until he was old enough. My brother tells me it will be over in a wink and I am sure he’s right, but I like winks and this one heightens the anticipation of much fun to come. Baseball has been in full swing for a couple of months and we’ve had WAY more fun than I ever expected. It doesn’t hurt that Jeff is the coach thus in control of the could be insane practice schedule and that we are playing with good friends and that we practice 3 minutes from home and that we get to play games on a real field. Even if our team lost every week-- and, thankfully, we have not-- I think we would be having just as much fun. (Don’t think I believe that for a minute. I am just supposed to say that.)
When we played T-ball, I knew Brighton liked it. It was simple and a great introduction. As he is still being introduced to this great game, he loves it more with each practice and game. He gets almost excited about baseball as he does reading books! Ha! OVER the top, turbo-chatty, hyper-dance-around-the-kitchen EXCITED. Reading gets a somewhat less enthusiastic response, but I’ll live. The league we are playing in this year is a tad more organized and from what I hear, slightly more competitive as the boys get older, which could prove disastrous for me. I’ll just add it to the list of one more area of santification... Oh, I have behaved and will continue to, as long as we win. KIDDING. I have cheered for the other teams on occasion. At this Pee Wee stage, it is an exciting moment when a five or six year old scoops up the grounder, throws the ball to first and the first baseman CATCHES the ball before the runner makes contact with the bag. It’s a triumph, I tell you. That play right there wins and loses Pee Wee baseball games. You can’t help but cheer for WHOMEVER makes this happen. Coaches’ chests auto-inflate---- like their boys make that play all the time----- or sometimes in a moment of forgetfulness, the coaches jump up and down like school boys. Most entertaining, I assure you.

We have NOT won all our games and some innings, my friends and I have thrown up silent prayers for it just to be over, but overall they have done really well. Basically, in this age bracket the name of the game is to keep the other team from scoring their possible 5 runs per inning. (Inning is over if the team scores 5 runs.) Holding a team to 4 runs in one inning can win the game.

I think it has surprised ALL of us- Moms and Dads alike- how much we have enjoyed the season and how worked up we can get. One morning I thought of just how many Pee Wee games were going on that particular Saturday across the nation and how many parents and friends were cheering or wringing their hands. The game I was watching was important to about, maybe, 50 people?? And why? For the simple reason, he is MY child, their child and so it goes. We cheer and wring because the child is, simply, ours. I knew I was in a mess when, oh, by the 3rd or 4th game, there were 2 outs, 2 boys on base and we were losing by one. Brighton was next in the line up. My heart started racing, my palms were sweaty and I had to get pace. Pee Wee Ball!!! Pacing! I have a strange, yet familiar feeling it won't be my last episode of pacing. And all because it is my child.

The following pictures show you where he likes to spend a lot of his time-- just for a little added drama.

I just happened to catch this grin when his sister yelled at him from the stands.

So after he made this stop, he actually made the throw to first, his friend Asher caught it and this is what B did next......

"Two away, everybody! Two away!"

"I see great things in baseball. It's our game - the American game. It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism. Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set. Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us." ~Walt Whitman