It’s tomorrow, and I can’t sleep. I’m thinking about it. And finally not going crazy. When I come. Sit. Trust. That I’m not really in control. And that I only go crazy, when I think I am. Procrastination is not having its way with me. I’m getting it out of my life… with each post, washed dish, and Shutterfly photo uploaded to start on that project. To think it began with one desperate move. And now I’m living a new life.
I’ll never forget the day you brought me to my knees. And had me look up. Trying to mirror the faith of an imperfect grandfather. Who somehow found himself in these pews weekly, if not daily. Lifting us all up to you with each visit. Leaving me with a perfect practice. To seek you. What I didn’t expect was for you to really show up. Thinking I’d gone crazy. I tried so hard to keep my gaze towards those tiles beneath my feet. Yet you lifted my chin heavenward. As though whispering a secret. To let you in. And open my mouth wide.
Embarrassed I’d be caught. Looking so disrespectful. And not the kind of ‘prayer’ that’s really a solemn sleep bowed down. Instead the kind that looks like an old man’s just fallen asleep, gazed upward. But that was part of your plan. My trusting you enough to look like a fool to this world. And so I have. And still do. Now I don’t just bring my needs. I expect you to also bring yours. So when I do share my heart’s desire for tomorrow. You answer, throwing back my head, to hear you breathe your plans right into my being. I’m left completely dependent on you before making a move.
Showing us roots to his anxiety, you ask us to look at our oldest. And ask us straight up, “who are we defending?” Our pride to keep him in an acclaimed language immersion school… or letting him go back to his local school and friends? Our need to see him socially accepted in sports or his love of being a woodsman? Just how much of our dreams will we push onto his life? He may only be 7. But we gave him the choice. And he chose his old school. Closer to home. Then you gave us all peace.
“Let the little children come to me,” He said. “And do not hinder them.” (Mark 10:14). My one assignment as a mom: to make you known to Him. And it starts with sharing your grace. For giving me grace, daily. Reminding me not to store it up for tomorrow. Instead, share it abundantly daily. Starting with my kids. Thank you, Son.
No, not figuratively. But (pun-intended), literally. This time, it was for real. Not made up. Like the time I went in for the “brown spot” on my neck. The dermatologist proceeded to conduct his plastic-glove analysis. As he calmly, but also with some force, began wiping the spot with an alcohol-drenched cotton swab. I figured he had to prime the area to expose what lied beneath. And boy. Did he ever expose it. After a minute, he was done. Handed me a mirror. And the spot was gone! This $120 out-of-pocket expense left me exposed. The diagnosis. Dirt. This spot I carried around for months, was as a result of my lack of self-care. And like a dear friend so lovingly texted her concern after I had shared, “today, I showered, and thought of you… So I scrubbed a little harder.”
It is with the grace of dear friends to confide in, that most days gets me out of bed or from getting back in it! When all I want to do is sleep my worries away. Like the very real loss of blood I kept seeing with each passing stool. Not a pretty picture, but I come to find out, I’m far from being alone in it. In fact, this seems to be a mommy-wide phenomena. One friend lends her pharmacist hat, while the other, her personal victory story. And there are many fellow mommy troopers, wiping away their pain. So I too got out my soft wipes. And took in all the wise counsel from these fellow sister soldiers.
And of course this all hits home, as I’m back home visiting for a week. Another literal desert. This time, I find relief. Not an oasis. Real joy. And love. As one sweet soul sister began to share an almost mirror-like journey to my son and I’s. Not knowing that we were both on such a similar path. We couldn’t believe that before she had a chance to put down her purse, we had already dove right into it. Confessed our mommy hearts and pains over trying endless treatments, with no real results. We talked more. Cried more. Laughed out loud. Prayed out loud. Still not knowing how best to move forward. We had found some relief. And received some peace.
As I drove home tonight, enchanted by the polluted air that makes stunning sunsets. I know the two must go together to bring about real beauty. Warmed by hearing words in song that spoke to this momma’s heart, “If He can hold this world, He can hold this moment. Not a flower in the field goes unnonticed. Look to the sparrow, who knows who holds their tomorrow.” For holding us mommies, and for holding onto each other, thank you, Son.
Preparation H and prayer. That’s all that seems to consume me these days. And not the kind of prayer that begs these hemorrhoids to leave me. But the kind of prayer that draws on His strength to heal me. 45 days later, and my symptoms remain. But He loves me too much to leave me there. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will is.” Romans 12:2.
And while in this desert, broken and ashamed. He stretched me even more. First, to get on a stage and share how real He is. And how real Satan is. Like oil and vinegar, you can imagine the two don’t mix. But the oil is smooth. And manages to cover every exposed surface available. But the vinegar is stronger. And to some, a foul smell that can’t be tolerated. When the truth is, that the smell is quickly absorbed. So all that’s left, is a new, cleaned surface. With no more stains. And that’s where the shame of all my past slip ups kept me broken.
The choice is mine. As it’s also yours. To go on swallowing what’s easier. Or take a strong dose of what saves lives. I choose to make a stink for Him. And I guess that’s what led me to this moment on stage. And the second stretch I was asked to do. Was to call my mom. And ask her to forgive me. For a past I was not willing to let go. And that’s when the healing began. Same symptoms. New mind. A joyful one. And for the first time, as a mom, I began to love like a mom. Now being able to both love mine, and the one I’ve become. Thank you, Son.
Video: an encounter I’ll never forget
“Mom, can I sleep in your bed tonight?” After probing a bit. I agreed. He longed for closeness to us, as parents. How fit. Given that’s my same desire of you. I cannot seem to get close enough. For long enough. So every part of my day I’m consumed with you. Talking out loud while I drive. In my head as I forgive any testy exchanges with others. Written out as I share daily highlights here. Whatever the means, none of it brings me any closer if I’m not willing to wait for your response. “Dad, Abba, can I be yours, starting tonight?”
I used to think I didn’t need much help. Sure. I sought out and still use self-help Ted Talks, therapy appointments, workouts, journaling and even a detox to keep or get me back on track. To ‘help’ me do good. And be good. But I don’t always feel good, or end up doing the good I wanted. I needed and still need help. Help that comes in a mighty way. Help that’s harder to accept. The kind I’m not sure I can trust, since I don’t see it. And yet, I’m helped each time I ask you. Whether the answer be yes, no, or not now.
So as I watch him rest in our bed, fast asleep. Trusting we’ll be there later to comfort. Protect. Shelter. I take great comfort in knowing that I need you. Every hour, I need you, as the song says. Because I too sleep in comfort under your protection, that shelters me. To guide my every thought. To do good. Not be good enough. For already giving us your good and perfect gift of you, thank you, Son!
Egg hunts galore. Wherever we looked. Egg parties with brunch and ponies. Eggs dropped from the sky with the aid of a helicopter. Or our traditional and beloved neighborhood egg hunt and potluck. After morning classes, the kids in ballet couldn’t wait to share their joy to go find eggs. So why did I hesitate sharing my joy of finding you?
Offending. Policies. My own comfort. All played into my delayed, Happy Easter! Let alone the mention of blessings and prayers. If I’m working, I’ll pray for the kids before class begins, but can’t be saying anything directly to them. And what strikes me most is how trained I’ve become to not offend. To adhere policy, or else! And to keep the peace by not saying anything at all. Where is the peace in that? If I know what keeping this to myself means for someone’s eternity. And not so-long-ago. That born-again Christian statement would have been an offense to me. Funny how I’m now the one claiming it’s truth. That the tomb was empty. But that morning, Mary would find you, very much alive!
Egg hunts are still and always will be a tradition for our family. I love the countdowns to the big hunt. And the layered release by age group to watch the smallest toddle to the easy finds. While the older ones jet out as fast as they can to the not-so-easy ones they’ll proudly find. It’s about sharing the joy. It’s about growing into the not-so-easy to say, but how proud you’ll be when I do share what I’ve found. So while we pop open an egg or two for it’s sweet surprise. I’ll be popping into a service to open and share your sweet gift. Of life. Forevermore. For those who believe in you and share in the joy, thank you, son.
TGIF. Thank you it’s a Good Friday. To follow you down Pennsylvania Ave was surreal. And to end at our nation’s capital steps, as you once again drew your last breath. I know I’ll not forget this pilgrim walk with the boys. I’ve felt this need. An almost urgent one. To help our boys know you. And today was a gift. To watch a reenactment of your trial to the cross. It made you come to life for me and them.
And there’s nothing like walking down the street, having to excuse myself out loud because, “I’m following Jesus.” You dragging your cross those 15 blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue. Mostly having your picture taken by the standerby. At times from the sidelines hearing, how strange. While children were always quick to inquire and enjoy, “mommy, those knights are really religious, right?” And as each child pulled down the hand of a parent to know more. Parents had to make a choice. Whether they believe and want to share.
I had to make that choice. And while I fought it most my life. I chose to accept your loving call on that Good Friday, seven years ago. Only to now watch our boys come to their own choices. So watching our oldest son’s desire to pray for you to rescue him. Has melted my, and I’m sure your, heart. Today, as we stepped away from following you in the crowds, so I could pay more on the meter, his tears of wanting to return to you… rocked my world. For having hearts after you, thank you, son.
Walking into their home, I didn’t realize the importance of it until just now. A larger town home than most in the area. Yet I was taken aback more by one piece of artwork. A very large hand-made colored, metal image of your last supper. Displayed with side lights to illuminate the scene. Made this Maundy Thursday come to life as we shared a meal in celebration of our friend’s youngest son turning 5. Under the portrait of when you knowingly took your place in history’s story of salvation. Breaking bread with your betrayer. Still teaching your friends how to lead by example.
What a perfect gift and image to see before this day’s end. After having woken so early and gone to bed so late. Instead of having my normal pains that keep me down and hitting the snooze. You gave me a clear head. And an open heart. To turn to you. Usually, I do in my journal first. But this morning, as I stooped over my bible in the hallway before light was up. I already noticed that my two-day migraine-like pains were much less. But I had not taken any of my vitamins yet. Not even stretched. Not done what I should to help relieve the pain. Instead, I felt you relieve it in me.
And I received your gift of grace. To more than lift my body’s pains. I received an energy that gave me a new sense of living. As though the morning had already come. And I somehow had enough time to get ready. Enough time to get breakfast on. Dishwasher emptied. Groceries bought. Budget done. And out to celebrate. This sort of day would have tired me before it began. But it wasn’t my doing. It was my believing. Believing that you’re still very much alive. So that you can do it for me. Both the details of my day and the talks that change lives. Even in our oldest. As he questioned the empty tomb. Your body. He may be 7. But asked the same question I did just a few years ago. Was it a new body? To think it is the same one that was put on the cross, brought us both to prayer. And he asked to be led to you again. For bringing us closer to you, thank you, son.
Sometimes I do just have to do it. Doing some one-to-one time with the kids has helped keep our home calm. But not the housework. And when I look at it all. I’ll start ‘un-calming’ our home quickly. Instead, I choose to breathe you in, as I ask for help. Then you show me how I can fold the laundry in the hallway. Before squeezing in that shower, now that the kids are asleep. And getting back to the rest of the two-day old laundry. It’s in these baby steps, that the bigger picture is slowly in the making.
From making the beds to making dinner. You tell me to stay in each task. In each moment. Then before I know it, I’ll have the majority of my list done before bedtime. Even after holding our little guy with his teething fever for most the day. Or Buddy getting into that half-eaten, chocolate-oatmeal raisin cookie. Only to learn raisins give dogs kidney failure. So I had to then help him throw it up with a tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide.
And while I called in for reinforcements to have the husband come home early. Work beckoned. So I turned to you. And the mid-70s afternoon, took care of us all. Being and playing outside. Both boys chased soccer balls. Buddy ate some grass. And I got in mommy time in with friends in the same position. So that when Dad came home to play Star Wars, I got dinner on. And even after Dad did baths and bedtime, I was bold enough to ask for more help. A massage to work out the kinks from carrying our not-so-little man around. The relief that kicked in when those knots left, made me feel so pampered. No longer guilty about needing this much help. Being this weak. This unorganized. This behind. This whatever! For learning to let it go, thank you, son.
Make a move. So I stayed by his side. To watch twister. To cuddle. Even if it’s me putting my arm around him. And having to forget any words I did or didn’t get to feel affirmed. It may be my first love language. But I realized. To feel love. I must give love. And love isn’t self-seeking. And it won’t keep records of wrong. Two things I’ve mastered. Not to mention being easily angered. So now I catch myself and stop. Then start again.
And when I ask the question I know the answer to… I now stop. And rethink its intent. Am I self-seeking, or loving? Building up a record, or loving? Raising my pulse, or loving? I choose to quickly say, “I forgive (name), for (fill in the blank)”. Do it quick. Like a bandaid. And see it begin to heal. That marriage. With one less huff late at night. That parenting. When I take time to forgive myself when angered and switch to play mode for 15 more minutes. Because playing cop is way better than whatever I have planned anyway. That friendship. When I make that call. Even if I was the last one to reach out.
Far from perfect. And you remind me how much you are for me. When I’m at my weakest. You are powerfully perfect. In me. And it’s awesome. You leave me in awe. Not some of the time. All of the time. I begged for help with my creeping pain that hits me before the migraine. Then the friend visits that gives me a constant smile. And laugh. To take the place of any ibuprofen for the night. And now I can type, without each key drumming in the searing pain. Instead, it became background noise. As you turned up the volume on love. Loving my friends. Loving my marriage. Loving my kids. Loving myself. For loving me, thank you, son.
Strong. When I’m not. Wise. When I’m not. Patient. When I’m not. Loving. When I’m not. So often, I’m just not that way. The way I know is right. So I put into play the truth I heard this week. That to grow in you, I just need to turn to you. And that’s what I did. As I sat near the window in our room during nap and quiet time. I felt the sun’s warmth as if I were laying outside. So I sat. And I rested. Letting you feed me what I most needed. Yes, the vitamin D helps my bones. But to know you’re in control of my life, helps my soul.
So I stayed on the detox all day. With nothing but liquids. To avoid all sugar and solids. Not for my health alone. For your work in me. And all around me. When it’s hard to see you, as I hear of harm in this world. Then I think back to how you had to turn some tables to get rid of what didn’t help the cause. And as I let go of my right to eat what I wanted. I gained a world of comfort to know you’re still in control. Not by my asking. Did our oldest seek out the bible-based story keepers cartoon to watch.
Just when I think nothing’s changing. You show me how all but you, will change. How I’m to stop and enjoy the flowers. So I can still smell that goodness to share with who you put in my path. And being home with our boys, is the main place to let such perfect love in. By choosing to stay on the small and narrow path to you. For being a good, good father, thank you, son.