Month: October, 2009
She walked into the center with downcast eyes. She had long black hair. Her hair was tight with curls. Her skin was smooth. It was so smooth that I wanted to run the back of my hand against her cheek like I do with my own girls. She didn’t frown but she didn’t smile either. She needed a coat to keep her warm in the winter.
I stood and watched as her mama helped her look through the racks of coats; coats that were donated for children who have none. First she found a bright pink coat with brown trim. It came up to her waist and it was stylish. She liked it. She wanted to take it. I smiled at her and told her that she looks beautiful in her new coat, the one that will keep her warm this winter. I took it from her and dropped it in the bag and we went to look for some hand knitted mittens and a hat. On the way, she spotted a long black coat. It had a belt and it looked warm. She looked up at me and said “can I change my mind?”
“Of course! Try it on!” I said, excited for her. She chose the long one in the end. And she was thrilled with it.
When I laid in bed last night I pictured all of the children that came through the center yesterday. And I imagined what things are like for them. I thought about the lands end catalog that I order our coats and boots and hats from and how different childhood is for my children. I thought about the cake pops I made for Lulu’s party at school because I didn’t have to worry about where I would get the money to purchase the ingredients.
And I thought about all of the smiles I give my children and all of the encouragement I give them and all of the Bible I try to infuse in them. And then I thought about children that melt with just an ounce of attention from an adult.
I’m trying to teach mine to give and give and give. Not only material things but love and smiles and warm touches to a shoulder. It’s just a ripple; it’s not a big tidal wave of good. But a ripple is all I’ve got to give. With my ripple and their ripples, maybe someday it will be a tidal wave.
At the end of the day yesterday, I mostly thanked God for seemingly little things. Except I realized that they aren’t so little. The smiles, the encouragement, the little county fair that they love – those aren’t little things. Their childhood is wrapped up in those things. And while their childhood isn’t perfect, it isn’t anything like the lonely and scared childhood others experience.
True confession: I cringe when I hear someone say they don’t like children.
Ok, I said it. My sincere apologies if you are one of those people. I’m not dissin’ you. I’m just sayin’, I don’t understand.
I understand not liking misbehaving. I understand not digging the loudness sometimes. But not liking them. Really? Wow.
I’m just sayin’, I don’t relate to that. At all.
Take for instance, this little one. He is my baby sister’s baby. He looks like a dream. He’s loud sometimes. And sometimes he’s unhappy when he’s needing something he ain’t got. Despite all of that, I want to hug him for the rest of my life. I want to sit and cuddle him and coo at him and tell him how much I love him.
And take for example these two mischievous little ones. My nephew and my very own Livy. Oh these two are punks. Trouble, I tell you. Especially when they are together. Just hankerin’ to find something to get into. Can’t you see it in their grins? People, let me tell you, be very afraid of these two if you see them together. But you know what? They are my buddies. I could lay on the ground tickling them for hours. They rock. They light up my world and make me smile.
To the kiddos closest to me:
Mak & Liv
S, A, J & J
R & S
N, R & M
G, I, D & L
I adore you all. And I’ll always be willing to tickle you and tell you secrets and love you and pray for you and delight in who you are. Always. I promise. ~me.
I’ve been without my big imac for several weeks now. It was safely returned to me today. And I must admit to you – I feel whole again. Ah, just kidding. But it does feel good to have her back.
What follows is a post I wrote several days ago. I even posted it on my blog (for about 5 minutes). And then I deleted it because I thought it was really heavy and a bit too much. But you know what? I decided that is honest and true……things are a bit too much sometimes. Well, almost too much. At any rate, when I have something to say, in order to be real, I need to say it. So here it is.
I don’t like the photograph below. It’s true. And I know you’ll agree. There isn’t one lovely or nice thing to say about this photograph.
However, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. I took it nearly a month ago. I actually took a series just like it. She was riding her bike down a hill in our neighborhood and she fell down. She wasn’t hurt physically. I promise you, I would not have been snapping photographs had she been hurt physically. Her pride was hurt. Something inside hurt.
This photograph stuck in my head because it’s a familiar reminder pain. Not physical pain but pain inside. Pain that we’ve all felt at one time or another. Picture a huge basin full of water. It’s out in nature, surrounded by beauty; trees, flowers, animals. Sunshine, neverending sky. The basin is full of warm, calm, safe water. It’s enjoying the breezes and the now. And out of nowhere something is thrust into the basin. Something that causes all of the water to fly out in a violent motion. And then you can see it. You can see what was under the calm, beautiful water. A cracked, dry ground. It’s hard to look at. It’s unsightly. But it’s life sometimes.
Contemplating pain leads me to one conclusion. I can’t have something movable in my basin. It can’t be full of something beautiful that will react to outside influences. If it is, I’ll eventually end up staring at the unsightly part of the basin. More often than not, the beauty won’t be there. It will be displaced by something – dissatisfaction with a loved one; unhappiness with economic or social status; illness; hunger; addiction.
The only unmovable is God. He doesn’t change.
Babies….the most pure thing on earth. Maybe their beautiful fragrance is like that of heaven. Do you think it could be so? They are freshly knit by the very hands of God; bestowed on us like an amazing gift. A gift that we delight in; marvel in and lavishly enjoy.
I happen to believe that they belong to God (just like every other thing on this earth). It is all His. But this gift; the gift of a baby to a family makes me gasp. The Lord allows His precious children to pass to this world through the body of a mother. The thought was so overwhelming to me when my babes came from Him via my body that I wept each time I thought about the magnitude of it all.
That’s I how think of it when a new baby arrives. God sends each baby here through a precious woman; a woman who will never forget the beauty of the day that her baby entered the world. Some mothers never recognize that this gift is from God – the Creator of everything.
The mother of this little lady rejoices in the God that sent her here; she fully recognizes that this gift is from God. Recently I’ve been impressed by a particularly short Bible verse that goes like this: delight yourself in the Lord. My prayer for “L” is that she do that each and every day of her life. And my prayer for this family – whom I love so much – is to teach her just what that looks like.
One of my greatest joys in life right now happens from 10:45am to 12pm on Sundays. Dave and I have the great honor of teaching 4th and 5th graders the redemptive history of the Bible. It is an amazing gift to me to see children connecting God’s story together. Every Sunday I leave energized and excited. This past Sunday, we were talking about the instructions God gave Noah. God told him to built a big boat. The question for the children was: would it have been ok if Noah decided to build two boats? I mean really, there were a lot of animals to fit on that boat!
The children thought about it and said, “yes, it would have been ok to build two boats.” And then, our sweet Lulu (who is in first grade) stood up and said “no! It would not have been ok for him to build two boats!”
“Why?” I said.
“Because God told him to built ONE boat. And when God tells you to do something, you do just what God told you to do”, she said, very confidently.
For me, this moment when my daughter stood up and spoke the truth was the best moment of the entire week for me. She gets it. And for my six year old, there isn’t anything on earth more important to her Papa and me.
The first day of school this year, we took them out on the water. It was *cold*. Brrrr. Look at her face!
Quiet days are lovely. Quiet days mean there isn’t a plan; there aren’t things that need to be done. The main event on quiet days is just being together. That’s the kind of day we had today. I even had time to go through some old photographs of Mak & Livy. I love going back; I always find new treasures.