The Trouble with Ears

The first thing I remember about Nathan was thinking he was definitely louder than his brother Joel. The very next thing I recall is a nurse gushing loudly over his piercing cries, “Oh, would you just look at those dimples!”  Sure enough, there on his right cheek was a deep double-dimple. And, to my surprise, he was born knowing how to use them!

Of all my children, Nathan smiled the quickest. By 3 1/2 weeks of age, he was giving big full-on grins, putting that dimple to work. He was born with bright blue eyes and a head of thick black hair that stuck straight up, giving him the appearance that he had something mischievous going on in his little head. Everyone (and I mean everyone) said all that black hair would fall out, but it never did. In fact, by the time he was three months old, the roots were growing in blond. Poor Nathan! He looked like he had been given a bad dye job!  One day I trimmed away the black tips as he slept in my arms. Now he had head full of blond hair to match the blue eyes and big dimple.

Did I mention Nathan was born in Monterey, California?

That’s right.

I’ve got my very own California Beach Boy.

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Nathan was less than two months old the first time it happened. I woke up to his loud shrieks at some ungodly hour in the middle of the night. This cry was not the wail of a baby needing to be fed or changed into a dry diaper. This was the cry of a sick infant, one who was in pain.

No fever. No wound. In my sleep-deprived state, I couldn’t figure out what was wrong him. Nothing I did stopped his cries. At some point, I took him to an ER, where my baby was diagnosed with a raging double-ear infection.

That night marked the beginning of Nate’s ear troubles.

Nathan, center, at 7 months. Three hours after this photo was taken, he was in the ER being treated for another ear infection. A month later, he got his first set of tubes.
Nathan, center, at 7 months. Three hours after this photo was taken, he was in the ER being treated for another ear infection. A month later, he got his first set of tubes.

He got his first set of ear tubes at 8 months, after he had already been treated for a dozen ear infections.

Now you must understand, from my personal experience of living in Monterey, California for nearly a year and a half, the doctors there were leery to do anything. They wanted to take the “wait and see” approach. But Nathan’s little ears were constantly infected. Homeopathic remedies didn’t work. Antibiotics seemed to work, only to have the infection come back with full force just as soon as the medication was stopped. Finally, out of desperation, an ENT said, “Well, he is awfully little for this but let’s put in some ear tubes and see if it will help.”

I never will forget after that first procedure the ENT sitting me down, looking me in the eyes and saying:

Let me be honest with you … I don’t know when I have ever seen so much pus and debris in the middle ear, especially on a child this young. It was like wallpaper paste, clinging to everything! No amount of antibiotic would have ever cleared up that mess. We definitely did the right thing by putting in tubes.

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Like a song stuck on repeat, one ear infection followed another, and one set of ear tubes after the next.

The first time Nathan had a tympanoplasty, he was about five years old.

We checked in at the surgical hospital that morning expecting Nathan was just going to be receiving another set of ear tubes. If you have ever had a child who has gotten ear tubes, you know it is a relatively simple procedure that takes about ten to fifteen minutes for the doctor to perform. Literally you spend more time waiting for your turn than you do waiting for your child’s ear tubes to be inserted.

Nathan at age 4 ... all smiles!
Nathan at age 4 … all smiles!

That particular day Nathan was wheeled back to have the tubes inserted, but he didn’t come back quickly. Forty-five minutes passed. I finally managed to flag down a nurse, who didn’t have any information but promised to find out what was going on for me. Several minutes later, she returned.

The doctor ran into some trouble. Apparently his ear drums were in not in good enough condition to hold a tube in place, so he had to perform a tympanoplasty first.”  Seing my confused look, she quickly explained, “That means the doctor repaired the ear drums with a small graft of skin. He should be finishing up within another fifteen or twenty minutes. It’s alright, Mama … your boy is in good hands.

Sure enough, it wasn’t long before Nathan was wheeled back out, his little hand strapped to a stabilizing board to help hold his IV in place. Nathan’s ears were covered with bandages. After all of the experiences with getting sets of ear tubes, I wasn’t prepared for him to look so injured and ill.

As I reached over to stroke his sweet head, Nathan gave me a glare, “I cannot move my hand. No one will take this out!” He waved his hand and forearm about wildly.

About that time, the same kind nurse peeked her head into the room. “How are we doing in here?” she asked, flashing a bright smile at us.

Before I could answer, Nathan ranted, “Not well! I do not feel so good right now.

“I’m sorry. What can I do to make you feel better?”

I want this thing off of my arm.” Nathan pointed to the arm taped to the board.

The nurse smiled. “I am definitely going to take your IV out … just as soon as you eat, drink and go to the potty for me. Deal?”

No. It is not a deal. I am not hungry. I am not thirsty. And I don’t have to go to the potty.” Nathan was not in a deal-making mood. Knowing my son was as stubborn as he was charming, I feared we were in a for long stay in the recovery area.

But that sweet nurse didn’t seem at all fazed by Nathan’s grumpiness. Ten minutes later she was back with graham crackers and apple juice.  She set it all up on the little tray and offered to turn on the TV so that he could eat his snack while watching a cartoon.

Humph.” Nathan gave the nurse a grumpy glare. “Watching TV will not make me feel better. What will make me feel better is for you to take this thing out of my arm.

The nurse did not fall for Nathan’s act.  “I’ve already told you that I will take it out just as soon as you eat, drink and go to the potty.”

And I’ve already told you that I do not want to eat or drink or go to the potty.”  Nathan tried to cross his arms on his chest, but between all the IV tubes taped to his arm which was fastened to the board he couldn’t manage to get everything in position.

“Well, seeing as this is my hospital, you are going to have to follow my rules. I’ll leave you alone for a while. Maybe in a few minutes you will feel hungry or thirsty.”

As the nurse walked away, Nathan pushed away the tray with the apple juice. “What sort of hospital is this?” he grumbled.  “Everyone knows the healthiest thing to drink is water. Instead, I got apple juice. She’s probably a terrible nurse because if she knew how bad I felt she would bring me a cup of water.

Seeing an opportunity to perhaps bring about an end to the stalemate, I cautiously asked, “If the nurse brought you some water, would you drink it?”

Fifteen minutes later, Nathan had guzzled down a couple of large cups of water, eaten three packets of graham crackers, gone to the bathroom, and had the hated IV removed. After handing me the discharge papers, the nurse turned to Nathan and offered to give him a ride to our car in a wheelchair. His five-year old eyes glittered with excitement.  Flashing the nurse his most charming dimple grin, Nathan asked, “Can you take me the long way so I can have a really good ride?” The nurse, who had up to now been so firm, couldn’t seem to refuse this final request. She even gave him a wheelie on a quiet stretch of the hospital hallway.

As she dropped us off at the front of the hospital, Nathan gave her a big high five. “The next time I need ear tubes, I am definitely coming back here, ” he declared.

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Just last month Nathan got had an ear infection which rapidly turned into mastoiditis. It took three trips to visit our ENT, two trips to the pediatrician, and a visit to the emergency room to get him well.  He got a CT scan, two bags of antibiotics by IV, a shot in the rear with another antibiotic, 14 days of antibiotics by mouth, along with an ear drop antibiotic, and it still was more than three weeks before his ear was pain-free.

“Maybe this will be the last one,” I thought. “Maybe after this time his ears won’t hurt him any more.”

Two nights ago, I found myself sitting in yet another urgent-care clinic watching another doctor look into my boy’s ears and state with shock, “Goodness! That’s an infected ear!”

Inside, I moaned, “Oh, Lord … are we ever going to get past this? It seems like we have been around and around and around on this same merry-go-round. I feel so hopeless about this!”

As I stopped by the pharmacy to get the antibiotic filled, the verse that kept racing through my mind was this:

There is nothing new under the sun.

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Ear tubes. Ruptured ear drums. Tympanoplasties. So many ear infections, I’ve long lost count.

For years, doctors have told me my son would outgrow ear infections. He will celebrate his 13th birthday on Thanksgiving Day. After all these years of ear aches, it feels as if Nathan and I have tried everything there possibly is to try.

Isn’t that the way we humans feel? It seems like we fight the same old battles over and over.  Some of us battle with the bulge, diet after diet, hoping that one of these days the weight will fall off and stay off. Others find themselves warring with addictions: smoking, drinking, pornography.  We go round and round, wrestling with our demons, desperate for the solution, fearful one doesn’t exist, wondering if our prayers are bouncing off heaven. Our battles feel old and our souls feel weary.

I read something interesting this week. According to Ravi Zacharius, the phrase “There is nothing new under the sun” which King Solomon uses approximately twenty times in the book of Ecclesiastes, is actually an old Hebrew idiom meaning “a life without God.”

It took me a moment to wrap my head around this thought. Maybe you are quicker than me … even so, give me a moment to explain what I eventually realized.

In this life, there is nothing new. If it has happened once, it is just as likely to happen again. Wars, disasters, addictions, diseases. We hear the stories again and again. There really is nothing new under the sun.

But when you have a life with God, everything changes. Suddenly, the impossible becomes possible. The unimaginable happens. The terrible becomes glorious. And that’s because God makes all things new. And because God has that sort of power, we have hope in whatever battle we are facing.

David killed Goliath because, even though there is nothing new under the sun, God makes all things new and possible.

The same thing goes for Moses parting the waters, Gideon defeating the Midionites, and the marching Israelites bringing down the walls of Jericho. Time and time again, we read in the Bible of how the impossible came to be all because of God’s intervention.

There is always hope because even though there is nothing new under the sun, God has given us His Son and through Him all things are made new.

suninclouds

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It’s taken me a week to write this post. Not only has Nathan been ill with an ear infection, but so has the rest of this house. This morning, four out of five kids are hanging out in pajamas, sniffling and coughing and sneezing. Yesterday, I was down and out myself. A bad case of the sniffles is not such a terrible thing in this world filled with problems. Life could be a whole lot worse than just needing to hang onto a box of kleenex.

But even so, I hang onto hope this morning … because while there is nothing new under the son, everything is new with the Son of God.

Then the One seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new.” He also said, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.”  ~Revelation 21:5

Of Printers and Sons … a Day of Arguments

My printer and I are having a bit of an argument.

photo credit: www.freeimages.co.uk
photo credit: http://www.freeimages.co.uk

I want my printer to print out about 3 pages worth of documents, a recipe and a page for my 14 year old son’s school work. My printer, however,  has decided this job is too hard for a Thursday.

 

My printer will not print because for some reason it believes there is no paper in the paper tray. The light blinks indicating for me to add paper. The printer icon on my computer jumps up and down to grab my attention.  Click on it and a message appears: Refill paper tray.

However, the paper tray has been refilled … several times actually. Originally, the tray was empty. I inserted a nice stack of paper into the tray, but the printer still refused to print.

So, I removed the paper from the tray, straighten the stack, and reinserted it back into the proper location. Nope. No luck.

I removed the paper again, added more paper, refilled the tray, pushed print. Nothing.

 

Next, I removed about half the stack of paper. I figured maybe in this case less would be more. There remained nothing but silence from my printer.

I am frustrated and angry. It’s such a silly little argument. Neither of these things I want to have printed are urgent, life and death matters. But honestly … I’ve had it up to here with my printer! (If you could see me, my finger would be at about eye level. Not much longer and this printer will have pushed me over the top … which, of course, is why I am writing about it instead of continuing to try to fix a problem that doesn’t seem to want to be fixed.)

Unfortunately, the printer is not the only thing arguing with me today.

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My morning began with an argument.

Accusations. Pointing fingers. Raised voices (unfortunately, my own).

Photo Credit: www.morguefile.com
Photo Credit: http://www.morguefile.com

What’s a mom to do when a preteen boy plays the laundry blame game at 6:45 am?

Yes, 6:45 in the morning and we are arguing over who was supposed to do yesterday’s laundry. It’s too early for discussions like that. I just need to drink my coffee and breath in peace and quiet, not discuss with frustrated boys the dilemma of who’s job it was to put the laundry on to wash.

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It’s like a snowball rolling down hill. (Not that I would really know about that. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually seen snow and none of it was ever enough to make a smallish snowball. Even if I did have enough snow to make a snowball, 

Regardless of what I know about snowballs, I do know that arguing tends to breed arguing. Round two followed round one before breakfast was hardly over.

Silence, blank stares, and stubborn glares. It’s a different boy with a different problem.  It really doesn’t matter whether it is schoolwork or laundry at the center of the argument. The result is still the same.

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The argument with my printer isn’t easily solved. I don’t have a mechanical or technical mind. I’m challenged in this areas. And until my printer decides to communicate with me in a way I can understand or I find someone who speaks the language of printers, this argument will only continue.  And truthfully, if my printer and I can’t come to a point of resolution soon, this argument may end with a kick to the curb!

The arguments with each of my sons, however, are very simple to end. It starts with “I’m sorry” and it ends with “Please forgive me. I was wrong.” In the middle, there is taking time to listen and reflect and work together to find a solution. Spending time looking each directly, instead of staring or glaring or rolling eyes. Seeking to understand and resolve instead of point fingers and accuse.

After all, I don’t want to argue with my boys …  just as I know they don’t want to argue with me either. Oh sure, I might jest and say I’m going to kick them to the curb or sell them to the next band of traveling gypsies that wanders through the neighborhood. Not that I would … even if I could!

I’d rather end with a hug (or the very least a smile), and know that things between us are okay once again. So I’m going to swallow my pride and be the first to offer the olive branch of peace.

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Arguments with printers and other material things might be frustrating. But they are typically an easy-to-fix sort of problem. Troubleshoot and repair it. Or throw out the old and get a replacement.

Arguments with people aren’t as easily remedied. Feelings get crushed. Hearts get hurt. And deep down we feel justified in our actions, believing we were right, desiring for the other person to make the first move.

Even so, it is always better to make the first move toward forgiveness.

Because people can never be replaced.

Photo Credit: www.morguefile.com
Photo Credit: http://www.morguefile.com

Do not let the sun go down on your anger. ~Ephesians 4:26

Gender Bender

My sister is having a baby, and y’all, I am tickled pink! Or is it blue? Either way, I am one ecstatic “aunt-in-waiting!”

girl-or-boy

Hopefully, it won’t be long before we learn whether or not we need to start buying dresses with bows and lace or blue jean overalls.   But there is one thing we already know for certain.: This baby will either be a girl or a boy.

By the way, just for the record, I am voting for a boy. My sister Brooke already has two girls. Her poor husband is the only male in the family.  I am positive what Chris needs is a little more male bonding. Besides, my parents have more girl grandchildren than boy grandchildren. It would be nice if my sister could help even things out just a bit.

Honestly, I don’t know what makes me think I can forecast the gender of my sister’s baby.  I have an 0 for 3 record on predicting the gender of my own children!  That’s right. I didn’t guess a single one correctly, and everyone knows there is a  50/50 shot of getting it right.

Now my father, on the other hand, has a reputation for guessing baby genders correctly. I don’t know his trick, but I personally think he is at least a predictable as the famed Chinese Gender Predictor. In fact, just the other day, I was telling my sister that if the Chinese Gender Predictor and my father ever are in agreement upon the gender of an unborn baby, the expectant mother needs nothing else to confirm it.

(By the way, my sister took the Chinese Gender Predictor test and it says she is expecting a boy!  No word as of yet on what gender my dad is predicting, but I’m still picking boy.)

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When I was growing up, I wanted to have three or four daughters. I planned it all out.  Their names would all start with the same letter, and I would dress them in matching dresses. They were going to play piano and sing and paint beautiful pictures. And because our home would have no boys, there would be no wrestling or ball playing or loud burping (or worse).

I am so glad God saw fit not to answer that prayer!

Instead, He blessed me with children of both genders and I am a better person because of it. (Now, hey … don’t go poking your bottom lip out if God only gave you children of one gender. I’m sure there is a good reason for that too. I’m just enjoying my own blessing. I’m sure your blessing is cool too.)

Anyway … I really do love having both boys and girls. I honestly don’t have a favorite gender. And yet, I have to say if I were forced to pick only one gender, I’d go with a boy for no other reason than it makes purchasing underwear so much easier.

That’s right. Buying underwear for boys is infinitely easier than buying undergarments for girls. And as the mother of three girls, I ought to know! In fact, just last month we had The Great Underwear Fiasco at my house, the likes of which the world has never known.

The problem with having five children consecutive ages is that everyone grows out of everything at approximately the same time. So in the month of July, all five of our children suddenly outgrew every pair of underwear in the house. Not one child had underwear that fit correctly.

In case you haven’t been shopping lately, let me inform you that underwear is not cheap. Underwear times five is really not cheap. In fact, I was concerned that buying such a large amount of underwear at one time would break my budget.  I stood in my kitchen, looking at the empty refrigerator and bare cabinets, debating with myself if it would be more beneficial to buy food for the hungry horde or underwear so that they weren’t running the streets in the buff.

I went with the underwear. Later on, I would question my decision, though I am certain the neighbors are grateful for my choice.

Underwear for boys is easy. You go to a single aisle. The underwear is sized in a very easy to understand system as it matches up with pants sizes. The choices are simple as well. You can buy briefs, boxers or boxer briefs. Once the style is chosen, all that’s left  to decide  is if you want white or colored underwear. Easy-peasy. I successfully found underwear for all the guys in my family in less than five minutes. Not a problem.

But this was not the case for girls’ underwear.

To begin with, the underwear was located over an area of five aisles. For the first ten minutes, I wandered around in that section aimlessly, trying to figure out where I should even start.

Perhaps the biggest difference between men’s and women’s underwear is that in the ladies’ department, sizes of underwear do not match up with sizes for other items of clothing. For example, my underwear size is MUCH smaller than my pants size. I am not sure if this is supposed to make me feel better about myself or what, but I actually find it to be something of an annoying hassle. But it is especially problematic when the teen and tween girls you are buying for don’t truly wear women’s-sized clothing but no longer fit into girl-sized underwear. You can see how difficult this can make shopping for underwear.

By the time I figured out what sizes I was looking for, I had a raging headache. But I wasn’t done yet. I still had to figure out what style of underwear to buy for each girl. I’ve already discussed how men have just three basic styles. This is not so for ladies. Over in that section, the styles are limitless!

I don’t know how long I stood there staring at all the options. Should I choose hipsters, low-rise, or boy briefs? (I didn’t even consider bikinis or thongs as options for my girls).  Should the fabric be microfiber or some silky blend?  With lace or without? Seamless? Tummy control? (No, I am the only female in my family who needs that.) What colors and designs should I choose?  The options were overwhelming!

“Whatever happened to just plain cotton briefs?” I moaned to a fellow shopper.

Around and around the area I went, searching desperately through the piles of underwear, looking for something, anything that would fit and still be decent enough for a 11, 13, and 15 year old girls to wear.

I finally pulled over a store employee. “Help me!” I said frantically. “I just want to buy some underwear for my girls that doesn’t make them look as if they are going on their honeymoon!”

An hour and a half later, I emerged with three packages in hand. Once I got home, I presented the underwear to my children. My two boys muttered a half-hearted thanks and tossed the new packs of underwear on their beds. I haven’t heard another word about it since. All I can assume is that the underwear fits and they are wearing it … and if they aren’t, then I probably don’t want to know.

The girls, however, were not pleased with my choices. I chose the wrong colors, got low-rise instead of hipsters, and picked fabric that was uncomfortable. Not one single female in the house was happy with their new underwear.

Because I am in general a people pleasing sort of person and because I love my daughters, I voluntarily went back to exchange the unopened packages of underwear for more suitable options. But even my second round of underwear shopping for girls had less than desirable results.

The gnashing of teeth and rolling of eyes was nearly as terrible as that of the monsters in Where The Wild Things Are!  There were tears, complaints and even sighs of disgust. It was at this point I sat my girls down for a “come to Jesus” meeting over the new undergarments. “Wear it or don’t wear it! I do not care. But there will be  NO MORE COMPLAINING.”

That was a month ago. Just yesterday morning, I overheard one of the girls stating to her sister, “I need new bras. These old ones don’t fit quite right anymore.”

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Perhaps you have heard … Facebook now gives users more than two choices of genders to choose from when creating a profile. I’ve read varying reports of the actual number of choices, everything from 50 up to 71 different genders.

I thought that was crazy, but then I read about various groups (including the AMA) pushing for gender to be deemed “imaginary.”

photo from Elle Magazine
photo from Elle Magazine

Gender imaginary? Hardly! In fact, gender is one of the first things we know about our children. It’s clearly evident from the moment the baby emerges from the womb. Penis or vagina? Boy or girl?

No. Gender is real. Gender is essential. Gender is a gift.

Genesis 1:27 reveals that God gave humans and creatures gender.

He created them male and female.

And I am glad there are only two … I don’t think I could manage shopping for underwear with any more genders than that!

Driving Myself Crazy

Tomorrow my son has a doctor’s appoint in New Orleans, and I’m terrified.

I’m not scared because it likely my boy has a terrible disease. This appointment has nothing to do with anything of the sort. Yes, we could find out some potentially life-changing diagnosis, but chances are the geneticist is simply going to tell me I’ve got a very tall , very healthy young man on my hands. It’s what I’m expecting and even if things go a different why, my soul is already at peace with the appointment.

So what, you might wonder, has me in such a frantic state of mind. The answer is simple: driving.

 

driving crazy

I’ve never liked driving.

I much prefer riding, as long as I can ride in the front passenger’s seat. If I must sit in the back, then I need lots of cold air and a pillow, and maybe a dramamine, in order to keep myself happy. For as long as I can remember, I suffer from car sickness. Back seats, trying to read anything (including a map), being too hot or too warm or not having enough air movement … all of these things make it worse. Thankfully, I’m not the sort that vomits. I just get bad headaches and feel incredibly nauseous until the vehicle stops moving.

I never get car sick when I am the driver. Therefore you might expect I’d want to always drive. That’s not the case either. Insane as it might sound, I’d much rather ride than drive.

Why, you might wonder, is this the case?

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Perhaps it is because I grew up in a one-light town.

This light wasn’t even your standard stop light. No, it just blinked, a  slow cautionary yellow blinking light at the Y-intersection in the center of what most people would even hesitate to call a town.

When I left home for college, I didn’t have a car. I always caught a ride with friends, back and forth from home to school and back to home again. The campus was small enough to walk, and I was fortunate enough to have several friends with cars who could drive me off-campus on occasions when I needed a lift.

It wasn’t until I married that I had any real experience with big city driving. Over the years, I’ve driven in a lot of big cities:  Newport News, VA; Monterey, CA; Houston, TX; Austin, TX, and Savannah, Georgia (which, by the way, is the capitol of one-way streets going nowhere). I can handle driving in traffic. It’s not a huge problem.

So why, you might wonder, is traveling over to New Orleans freaking me out?

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Maybe it has to do with the fact that I’m not a map girl.

Oh, I can read a map, but I cannot remember it in detail in my head and I certainly can’t read it as I travel down the road (either as the driver or a passenger). When I need to get to a place that I don’t already know how to find, I either get verbal directions (from another passenger or perhaps even beforehand if the area is one with which I am already familiar) or by paying close attention to the roads and visual markers as I ride around in new places.

I’ve been to New Orleans several times, but I’ve never been to where I am going and I’ve never driven the route I am about to take. While I’ve studied the map in preparation for this driving experience, I am scared I am not going to remember it as I attempt to navigate my way tomorrow morning.

My big fear is taking one wrong turn.  Then there I’ll be …  lost … with my son … in New Orleans … near the French Quarter. I literally feel as if I might be one terrible half-step from catastrophe.

Fortunately for me, I’ve got an ace up my sleeve.

Exactly what, you might wonder, could this possibly be?

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Have I mentioned the particular child going with me on this New Orleans adventure is a mapping genius?

I’m serious. This is the kid who asked for a road atlas for Christmas this past year. He already had one, but some of the pages were getting worn out and he desired to have the most recent edition in case there were any “minor changes to roadways.” (His words, not mine.) It’s actually the fifth road map I’ve bought him, not counting the two he stole borrowed from his grandfather’s house.

This boy of mine has been reading maps for as long as either of us can remember. Sometimes I wonder if he was born with a map in his hand, only I was there and I’m pretty sure he came out empty-handed. When he was a toddler, the TV show Dora the Explorer used to frustrated both of us. I was frustrated by the repetitive songs. He was frustrated because the maps were “always the same.” (Again, these are his words. I’m just reporting the facts of the story.)

When he was seven years old, this boy directed me from rural north Louisiana all the way to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. I drove. He told me where to go. We made it … me behind the wheel, him riding shotgun with a map, and his two younger siblings sleeping and fighting in their carseats in the back of our packed minivan. I wondered at the time if he would someday be a trucker.

So what, you might wonder, is my big fear about this trip seeing as I am taking along an incredible navigator?

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Fear of failure?

Probably. I don’t like the idea of not succeeding. And in my mind, succeeding would be me backing out of my driveway with full confidence of knowing exactly where I am going, which turns to make, where to park, how to find the particular doctor’s office I need in a rather large and intimidating hospital, and knowing I’ll get us both safely home in time for dinner.

Fear of dependence on another person?

Definitely. It’s hard to depend on someone else for your safety.

Especially if that someone is quite a bit younger than you.

Especially if that someone is your child.

The older my children grow, the harder it is for me to let them actually grow up, especially in areas in which I have never really felt successful. Already my son is better than me when it comes to getting around new places, and he doesn’t even have a driver’s license … and won’t for another two years, at least.

Tonight as I am preparing for tomorrow’s journey, I realize in the morning I am going to depend upon this boy I birthed to get me to our final destination. How can this possibly be when I vividly recall changing his diapers and teaching him to use a spoon? I’m still instructing him on the finer points of good manners and praying that some of what I teach him regarding Algebra 1 sticks in his brain.

It feels so hard to swallow my pride and let him take the lead. And yet tomorrow he’s going to be in charge. I know I will actually be the one behind the wheel of the car, but I’m going to be relying on his judgement … whether I’m ready for it or not.

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I think there is another issue at heart here as well.

Trust in God.

Do I really believe God is always with me, as He has promised? If I did, would I really be so worried?

This is as much a test in trusting God as it is in learning to hand over trust to my son.  What I know deep inside is that I can either continue to drive myself crazy with the fears running around in my brain, or I can decide to take a deep breath and trust in God to lead both me and my amazing teen boy through the journey we must take tomorrow.

After all, each day is nothing more than a lesson in learning to trust. Some days are just harder than others.

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand. ~Isaiah 41:10

Pushing All the Wrong Buttons

Last week my husband Jon became a grandfather … sort of.   He’s not exactly a grandfather, but yet in a round about way he could be considered one. It’s rather complicated but here goes.

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In Jon’s previous marriage, he had a stepson. Ethan.

Jon first met Ethan when he was a tiny toddler, and married his mother when Ethan was around two. For the next twelve years, Jon raised Ethan as his own son.

Jon taught him how to throw a football, ride a bike, and drive a car.

He was there for boy scout camp-outs and the time Ethan was taken to the ER to have a cast put on his broken arm.

Cheering. Disciplining. Worrying. Praying. Jon did the same sorts of things for Ethan that all good dads do for their sons.

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I’m sure you see what’s coming. It’s fairly obvious. Since I’m now married to Jon (and I’m not Ethan’s mother) it is rather clear at some point Jon’s marriage to Ethan’s mother failed.

In the spring 2008, Ethan’s mom had to leave her marriage to Jon (for reasons I will not get into on this blog). As with any divorce, Ethan and his two younger half-sisters went through some difficult experiences during this time. In the end, a judge decided both girls would live full-time with Jon, while Ethan, who was 14 years old, would be allowed to live with his mother.

By the time Jon and I had begun dating in the late fall of 2009, Ethan’s visits to Jon’s home had become sporadic at best.  It wasn’t long before Ethan’s visits ceased altogether.  Eventually Ethan did not want to see Jon at all, which hurt Jon deeply though he did his best to hide it.   It became clear Ethan was angry with Jon for some unknown reason. All of Jon’s attempts to reach out to Ethan seemed to have little affect.

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For the past four years, Jon has had very limited contact with Ethan. On rare occasions, Jon might see Ethan briefly when he dropped off his daughters to see their mom. But even in those short moments of contact, Ethan greeted Jon with an awkward reception.

Jon, not wanting to push Ethan further away, tried to give him space and time to work through his emotions. He ached to do more than send  birthday and Christmas gifts. He longed to do more than pray for the boy he loved like a son. And yet, how do you show love to someone who doesn’t want your love?

And as for Ethan … well, after a year or so, he no longer appeared to be angry, but more unsure of how to make amends.

The longer the rift was there, the harder it seemed to build a bridge to cross over the gulf separating the two from each other.

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Last fall we heard the news second-hand.

Ethan, now a high school senior, had gotten his girlfriend Marlee pregnant.  Jon and I  were thankful to learn Ethan and his girlfriend were planning to have their baby, and that Ethan immediately began to assume responsibilities for taking care of his girlfriend and their baby.

Last Thursday, Ethan’s girlfriend gave birth to their baby, a sweet boy they named Noah.

Of course, Jon’s two girls were over the moon with excitement. As soon as they heard the news, there began to be a flurry of excitement, as they were eager for their mother to come get them so they could go to the hospital and hold their new nephew.

As they rushed to get ready, Jon glumly ate his lunch. He made a comment about not knowing why he felt so out-of-sorts, to which I responded, “Well, I think I do. You do realize if things had gone another way, today you would be at the hospital too, celebrating the arrival of your first grandson, right? But you aren’t there, and a part of you is grieving for what isn’t.”  

Squeezing my hand, Jon’s eyes lit with recognition.  With an air of certainty, he said, “I’ve got to text him. Maybe he will let me come see the him and Marlee and the baby at the hospital.”  I could tell Jon was only barely hopeful at this thought, as if he anticipated he might be denied the privilege.

Soon a text message was sent, and fortunately the reply was quick. Ethan agreed to a hospital visit the following day.  A look of relief washed over Jon’s face. I don’t know if I have ever seen a happier father than Jon in that moment.

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From the start, Jon was smitten. I knew he would be. After all, a baby is a baby, and there is nothing more precious than newborn just hours old.

We met Ethan by chance in the hallway, where we spent a few moments just catching up.  While their reunion cannot exactly be described as joyful or warm, it wasn’t completely awkward either. As he had hoped, Jon found a way to express some key thoughts to Ethan without becoming overly sappy or emotional … how proud he was of Ethan for choosing to do the right thing in a difficult situation, how he loved him, and how he would always be there if Ethan ever needed anything.

Moments later, we walked into the small hospital room, meeting the young mother for the first time. I’ll never forget Marlee’s sweet smile as she asked Jon if he would like to hold the baby. And boy, did he!  He scooped that tiny 8 lb bundle of joy into his arms. Jon looked down at the baby with the same expression I’ve seen on many a proud grandfather’s face.

Jon and I left the hospital encouraged. Ethan was open to us being there, even accepting our invitation to celebrate his birthday (hopefully with mother and baby too) at a restaurant at the end of the month. We have hope the relationship between Jon and Ethan will be restored.

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Press-Button

Perhaps you are wondering why this post is titled Pushing All The Wrong Buttons.  Well, give me a minute … I’m getting there.

You see, when Jon and I were leaving the hospital, I had trouble figuring out how to get out. To leave the mother/baby ward, you had to push a button to open the doors. I kept pushing the button on the wall next to the door. It was clearly marked PUSH TO OPEN. Yet each time I pushed it, nothing happened. Finally a nurse on the other side of the door indicated that I should actually be pushing a different button, one that was unmarked as well as farther away from the door we were trying to exit. Once I pushed the right button, we were able to walk through open doors with ease.

Moments later, we stepped onto the elevator. I pushed the button I thought was marked with a 1 for the first floor. Nothing happened. I pushed it again. Still no movement. It wasn’t until I went to push it the third time that Jon noticed the button I had been pushing all along didn’t really have a 1 on it after all. Again, once I finally pushed the correct button, the elevator immediately began to move.

All I wanted to was to be able to leave the hospital. But none of the buttons I pushed would let me out. That is … not until someone showed me the right buttons to push.

All Jon has wanted is to restore his relationship with Ethan. No matter how hard he tried, nothing seemed to work.

That is … nothing worked until God showed Jon the right way to begin to restore the relationship with Ethan.

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Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like you lost something you treasured?  Perhaps it was a relationship or a particular circumstance in life. Maybe you’ve lost financial security, health, or even a combination of things.

When my first husband unexpectedly walked out of our 14 year marriage, I lost more than just a husband. I lost financial security, the ability to homeschool my children, the privilege of staying at home to focus on being a mom.

For a period of time, I “pushed buttons” in an effort to not lose these things in addition to my marriage and my husband. I didn’t understand why God allowed me to lose them. I had no idea of how to get them back. All I knew is whatever I tried didn’t work.

locusts

One of my favorite aspects of God’s character is how He loves to bless His children, to give us the desires of our heart.  (Psalm 34:4)  God is also a God of restoration.  In Joel 2:25, we read the promise of God to the Israelites:

I will restore to you the years that the locust has eaten.

I think God still likes to do this for His children now. He loves to give us back what we have lost. It might not look the quite the same, but so often we find at some point in our future the thing we feared was gone forever has been returned to us.

After my divorce, my children had to go to public school and later a private school. Three years later, I married Jon, and to my delight the Lord blessed again me again with the privilege of homeschooling my children.

It is because of this essence of God’s character that I have hope for Jon to find that his relationship with Ethan will one day be fully restored. Ethan may never again call him “Dad” and perhaps Noah will never quite look to him as a grandfather … but because God is always actively working and moving in the lives of His children, I continue to believe in the hope of restoration.

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What has God restored to you?

How has He been faithful to you in the giving you back the years eaten away by the locusts? 

Driving with Papaw

For most Americans, renewing a driver’s license is a pain.

Last year, when I renewed mine, I had to make at least 2 different trips to the Department of Motor Vehicles. The first time I forgot to bring along an official document showing my new residential address; the second time I didn’t have the correct amount of cash. Each time I endured a long wait, one of which was more than two hours.  It’s pure torture to sit in such a place with three children, who eagerly begged to join me for the adventure of seeing their mom get a new driver’s license photo, but soon grew bored with sitting on uncomfortable chairs with nothing to do.

“I am a relatively good driver,” I thought, as I sat in the warm, crowded waiting area of the DMV. “After more than 20 years of driving, I’ve never been pulled over for speeding or running stop signs. The only wreck I’ve ever been involved in while driving was not my fault. Why must it be such a hassle for me to get this simple task done?”

I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with this dreaded task again for another four years!

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My 90 year old grandfather, whom my family affectionately calls Papaw, lives with my parents. Papaw has not retired from working a regular job. In fact, he gets up to go to his real estate office five days a week, rain or shine. He is active in church activities, including attending two Sunday worship services, Wednesday night prayer meeting and regular deacon’s meetings.

And, despite the concerns of his children and grandchildren, Papaw continues to drive himself to all of these activities.

Papaw’s mind is sharp. Intellectually, he is still fully functioning, engaged with family and friends. Physically, however, age is catching up to his body. His knees are weak, and now he must walk with a walker in order to maintain his balance. In the past few months, he has suffered a series of small strokes behind his eyes, resulting in vision that is not nearly as sharp as it should be in order to safely drive.

In recent years, my dad has begun to drive my grandfather to most places he needs to go outside of the rural community in which they live. Several times each week, my father takes his father to one of his many dr. appointments or to attend to business. It makes everyone in our family feel reassured knowing that Papaw is not navigating in fast or heavy traffic.

And yet, Papaw sees no reason he can’t drive himself to work or church and back home. The way he sees it, both places are less than a mile from his home, along the same two-laned road he’s been traversing for the past 75 years.  There are no red lights or stop signs. The route is not tricky.  Yet, the question we find ourselves asking is, considering his age and physical condition, it really safe for him to be driving?

But, trust me, there is no one in my family who wants to be the one to try to take the cars keys (and independence) from my grandfather.

Recently my father became aware that my grandfather was driving with an expired license. “Aha!” he thought, “This is the perfect opportunity to let someone else be the bad guy! What DMV employee in their right mind would renew the license of a 90 year old, half-blind, half-crippled man?!

So earlier this week, my dad took Papaw to the small DMV in the north Louisiana parish where they live. He watched in astonishment as my grandfather took the eye exam and answered the questions (all truthfully), and received a brand-new driver’s license, good for the next four years.

As they got in the car to drive back home, my dad could only shake his head in shock as my grandfather gloated, “I guess this means I need to plan on living another 4 years!

image of Cyril Sutton, 100 year old driver from Australia
image of Cyril Sutton, 100 year old driver from Australia

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This morning I woke up thinking about my grandfather’s driving and his recently renewed license. Based on the shocking outcome of the situation, I have two somewhat unrelated thoughts.

First, I am reminded in life that the unexpected often happens. If you are like me, you have experienced situations in which you have predicted a particular outcome with relative certainty, only to be shocked with an unexpected end result. I’m grateful to know despite my own shock and surprise in such circumstances, God was not taken aback by the way the events unfolded. What a comfort to know when life hands me or someone I love a deal I wasn’t anticipating, God already has it under His perfect control.

Secondly, please allow me to give you a word of caution. If at any time in the next four years you ever happen to find yourself driving along Louisiana Hwy 8 in rural Catahoula Parish, keep your eyes peeled for a grey Cadillac. If you should see one heading your way, pull over until it passes you by for it’s likely to be Papaw … and I can’t guarantee he will see you coming!

older

Irreplaceable

The phone rang at 7:30 am, but I didn’t hear it. Ten minutes later, I saw the missed called notification, indicating my husband had called but left no voicemail.

Immediately I called back, asking if he was needing me to do something for him.  “No,” he answered. “I was just calling to ask you on a date … for tonight. How about going with me to watch a movie?”

Jon and I rarely get to go to movies. Truthfully, I’m not much of a movie person. (I realize this is a strange fact, but the honest truth is I hardly ever desire to see a film.) Jon, however, loves movies and would probably like going to the theater on a regular basis. Yet, as the parents of five kids, we don’t often have the extra money in the budget to afford soaring ticket prices. Movies, for us, are a rare treat.

So when Jon asked me on a movie date, I immediately knew Jon for some reason felt this movie was important for us to see.  I had to say yes.

It turns out the movie Jon wanted to take me to see was a Focus on the Family one night event at movie theaters across the nation.  The name of the film was Irreplaceable, documentary-style  movie exploring the idea of family and why it matters in light of history, psychology, religion and today’s culture.

I was captivated from the moment the film started. Tim Sisarich, the New Zealand director and host, asked honest questions about the importance of family to society, especially in light of how the idea of family has changed in recent years and with the direction our culture is declining. Sisarich examines how the devaluing of sex led to the decline of traditional, long-lasting marriage, which further the idea that parenthood (particularly fatherhood) wasn’t a role to desire or take seriously. All of this has led to the demise of the family and ultimately the weakening of our culture.

Initially, it seemed Sisarich was going to just serve as a host, asking questions to the various experts and providing dialogue during transitions. But soon we catch a glimpse of Sisarich’s background … and as the documentary moves forward, Sisarich’s personal story unfolds as well. As a viewer, I felt even more engaged with Tim Sisarich as he walks through his personal story of a broken family.

Following the movie, Jon and I were able to talk deeply about our own past failures (both of us having been divorced and Jon also being the child of a broken home), our struggles (with step-parenting), our desires (in our marriage, as parents and step-parents and for the future of our family). For this reason alone, Irreplaceable was a film worth seeing.

My favorite part of this documentary came toward the end when Sisarich comes to the conclusion there is really no such thing as a perfect family. However, there is such a thing as a redeemed family, one which despite the brokenness of life on earth chooses to love God and love each other.

This is what Jon and I are striving for together. No perfect, but perfectly redeemed by the grace of God.

In case you missed the one night showing of Focus on the Family‘s documentary Irreplaceable, there will be an encore showing on May 15th.  The Focus on the Family blog has more information about the movie and the encore theater showing of the film. Click here to find out if there is a theater near you hosting this film.

Not sure if you would be interested in viewing Irreplaceable? Here’s the trailer.

 

X is for …

letterX

 

“Mom! Megan hurt her arm!”

Nathan’s voice had a concerned edge to it, making my heart race a little faster than normal. Sure enough, as soon as I saw Megan, pale-face and cradling her arm,  I could tell she was in pain.

“I’m fine, GiGi.  It’s nothing,” Megan said, though I could see tears still welled up in the corners of her eyes. She wiggled her fingers. “See,” she said with a wry grin,  “it’s definitely not broken.”

“It may not be broken, but I’d still like to check out your arm. Show me where it hurts.”

Megan pulled her arm instinctively closer. “Oh, really … it’s fine.”

I could see the purple tint of a bruise already beginning to show on the side of her right forearm. “Sweetie, what happened? I can see where you’ve bruised yourself. It must really hurt.”

Megan looked first at Nathan and then at me.  “GiGi, it doesn’t hurt me much at all. I just bumped up against the corner where the wall sticks out. I’ll be okay.”

Something about her answer made me feel suspicious as to what really happened, but I could tell Megan wasn’t going to open up yet. I gave her a couple of ibuprofens and suggested she find a quiet activity to rest her arm for the remainder of the morning.

An hour or so later, I saw Megan in the kitchen getting water. A huge knot stuck out, and the bruise was dark in color. I noticed my right-handed daughter using her left hand to get a drink. But after a second round of questioning, she continued to insist her arm was quite alright.

At lunch, Megan winced through the meal, picking up utensils gingerly as if even the slightest movement cause her pain. However, she never uttered a complaint.

By early afternoon, it was obvious to everyone that despite Megan’s bravado, the pain was intense. The arm might not be broken, but I wondered if it was fractured. I also was curious as to why Megan was so closed-mouthed about how the injury occurred.

I called her pediatrician, who said we should bring her in to check for fractures. On the car ride to the office, I said, “Megan, I need to know exactly what happened to hurt your arm. The doctor will need to know how it happened. Bumping up against the corner of a wall shouldn’t cause this kind of pain. So, be honest with me and tell the truth about what happened.”

With eyes cast down, Megan sighed deeply. “I know you will be mad at me. I hurt my arm because I was doing something I shouldn’t have been doing.”

“Megan, it’s okay. Just tell me and then maybe I can help.”

“Well … Nathan and I went into dad’s office. I know we aren’t suppose to go play in there, but we did. First I had a turn sitting in dad’s chair while Nathan spun me around. Then I let Nathan sit in the chair. But while I was spinning him, I somehow flung my arms and my right one crashed into the wall, right on the corner where it sticks out near dad’s desk. I didn’t want to tell you because I knew we would get into trouble.”

“Aw, Meg … I’m sorry you got hurt. I wish you had told me sooner. You and Nathan did disobey a direct rule. But hiding the truth never makes a situation better. You’ve been in physical pain from your arm all day, but your heart has been heavy too. And it didn’t have to be that way.”

Meg smiled shyly. “I know. It was silly not to tell you. I already feel better because the truth is out, and I don’t have to hide it anymore. GiGi, will you forgive me for playing in dad’s office and for hiding the truth about my arm?”

I grinned back. “You bet I will! I’d say your hurt arm is a natural consequence for your disobedience, so all is forgiven. Now, let’s go get this arm checked out.

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Megan did need to have her arm x-rayed that afternoon. As we left the pediatrician’s office and headed toward the medical center,  I called to the house to let the rest of my kids know it might be another hour or so before we got back home.

Immediately, four voices in the background began to clamor for me to return home so they might come with us for the x-ray. But there was no reason for me to drive ten minutes out of my way to pick them up. “Why on earth would you want to come anyway?” I asked.

“I’m concerned about Megan,” said Julia, a little too enthusiastically.

“Yeah! We want to make sure she is doing okay,” echoed Maddie.

“Well, personally, I just want a free coke and a couple of cookies,” said Joel.

“Yep! I’m with Joel!” said Nathan, his voice gleeful and giddy.

“Aha!” I said. “There’s the truth! I forgot how they have cookies and soft drinks and lots of bowls of candy in the waiting room over there. You people aren’t concerned about Megan. You are concerned about your stomachs!”

“Well, it’s not exactly fair that Megan will get to enjoy the free food when she was the one being disobedient in the first place,” pouted Julia.

“Fair or not, it’s just the way it is. I’m not coming to get you, but I will return home soon.” With that, I hung up my cell phone.

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Fortunately, Megan’s arm was not broken or fractured. She just had a deep, severe bruise which took several days to heal.

Afterward, I began to think about Megan’s situation. She tried to hide the truth because she was afraid of being punished because she was disobedient. And then, somehow, despite her failure to obey and in spite of her lie, she was still blessed beyond measure with a free soft drink and cookies as she got her arm x-rayed.

Isn’t God like that with us?

We sin against Him all the time, and then lie to Him about our actions. And yet, He blesses us in so many ways. His love is deeper than all of our wrong doings. His love is greater than our inability to be truthful with ourselves. His love disciplines and yet blesses at the same time.

X is for X-Ray, 

and for the reminder that God sees right into our sinful hearts, but loves and blesses His children in spite of it.

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. ~1 Peter 4:8

T is for …

Her tiny fingers curled around my thumb. With her other hand, she fingered the edge of the blanket. With a deep sigh, she closed her eyes.  It didn’t take long for her breathing to become slow and regular.  Her dark lashes brushed against her perfect baby cheeks, her lips pursed together as if she were about to give a sweet kiss, the weight of her head heavy against the crook of my arm; baby Eloise was asleep and I was content to pause in that fleeting moment, reflecting about when my own children were very tiny.

Somedays, most days actually, I miss have tiny, little people surrounding me.  I am not saying I’d trade my own growing crew. I wouldn’t, even though parenting them seems to be harder as they grow bigger. With the youngest turning eleven before the summer’s end, these kids of mine aren’t so tiny anymore.

Well, most of them aren’t tiny …

letter-T

I’m not sure exactly from where Megan gets her petite body. Her biological mother is average size; her father is rather tall. But, despite her tiny size, Megan has a powerhouse personality. She is a bundle of energy that moves in a thousand directions at one time. After Jon and I married, I learned quickly that if I didn’t keep Megan busy, she would keep me busy! She’s been known to rearrange entire rooms in half an hour, organize closets with one hand tied behind her back, and create enough art projects to empty a craft bin of all its supplies in a single afternoon.

If there is one thing Megan does not like, it is being such a tiny girl.  Her biggest disappointment this week has been that most people are surprised to learn she is turning thirteen in just three days. Truthfully, she looks more like she is about to celebrate birthday number eleven. Of course, having a younger sister who is physically bigger doesn’t help in this matter at all. At best, strangers assume Meg and Julia are twins. At worst, they believe Julia to be the older one based solely on her size.

There’s no use reminding Megan that Julia is not even her blood relative. To her, this makes no difference whatsoever. And please, whatever you do, don’t suggest she might feel differently when she is older (say 40 or so) and looks much younger than  her actual age. She firmly believes she will still feel the same way she feels now. And what Megan wants, or at least believes she wants, is to be big.

I cannot relate to Megan’s desire to be big. Blessed with good ole’ Irish blood, I am what some people might refer to as “big boned” or others would call “large framed.”  However you put it, I’m not a petite person. When I was in elementary and jr. high school, I was always the tallest girl in my class, and often even several inches taller than the girls in the grade ahead of me. For most of my growing up years, all I dreamed of was waking up the next morning to discover I was suddenly a tiny girl. Even though I prayed for this to happen on an almost nightly basis, I never did feel tiny compared to others.

Well, except for that one time …

short-people

Shortly after my ex husband left our marriage, I returned to work as an elementary school teacher. I already felt small emotionally, weakened by the shock of all that had occurred. One morning, as I stood in the hallway talking to several teachers, school employees and a mother or two, I realized I was the shortest one there. Everyone and everything seemed so tall, as if I had suddenly become very, very tiny.  The feeling of insignificance was overwhelming in that moment. I wanted to crawl in a hole and hide there until I was able to grow more.

Honestly, I think my reaction in that moment had more to do with my emotional and mental state at the time than it did to my body size, but I’ll never forget the scripture God brought to my mind as I stood there feeling so tiny and small and insignificant:

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him?

~Psalm 8: 3-4

It’s a hard truth to fathom. Who am I, out of all people on this earth, that God should notice me?  Who am I that He would listen to my cares, bend His ear to my concerns, offer His help in my troubles? Who am I that God would desire for me to know Him as He knows me? Who am I that God would call me His beloved?

T is for knowing that I am a rather TINY part of God’s creation …

yet He desires me (and every other soul on earth) to know Him, love Him and spend eternity with Him.

 

I hope you enjoy this music video of the song Your Beloved by Brent Helming, and know that no matter how tiny you feel, God’s love for you is bigger than anything you could ever imagine.

I is for …

“Hey, Momma … can you tell me what instant means?”

I paused from putting on my make-up to look at my ten year old girl. “Julia, are you sure you don’t know what instant means?”

“I thought I did, but I got confused so I thought I’d ask,” she responded.

“Generally, people use the word instant when they are talking about something that happens very, very quickly, almost immediately.”

“That’s what I thought … but if that’s what it means, then I don’t understand this at all.” With that, she shoved the Sunday morning comics at me, pointing to the ZITS panel.

( Please humor me and click on the comic so that you can enjoy reading it in a full-sized version.  Be sure to click the back button to finish reading the rest of my story, which will now make a lot more sense.)

zits.php

 

I took the comics page, and quickly read through the strip, chuckling as I remembered my family’s polaroid camera. Seems like half of my childhood photos are polaroids. I recalled the exciting wait to see the picture develop before my watching eyes, the thrill of holding the photo just minutes after it was taken.  It certainly felt instant at the time, especially when compared to dropping off film at the local drug store and waiting a week for the photos to be returned.

“Mom … why are you laughing? What is so funny?” demanded Julia, her hands on her hips. “Really, I don’t get it.”

“Well …” I began, but then paused, trying to figure out where to start.  “Let’s see … okay, when I was a little girl, most cameras used film. You had to take all the pictures on the film first, and usually there was somewhere around 12 to 24 photos on each roll of film, though some film canisters had more.”

“Yes,” Julia sighed. “I know about film.”

“Ok, well, once the film was completely used up, then you had to take it to get it developed. Until then, you didn’t know what your photos might look like.”

“Why didn’t you just look on the back?” Julia asked.

“The back of what, dear?” I looked at her out of the corner of my eye as I tried to apply my mascara.

“You know … the camera?”  Julia sounded slightly annoyed.

I laughed again. “Sweetie, I’m not talking about digital cameras. When I was your age, there wasn’t a preview screen on cameras.”

Julia looked confused. “So …. how did you know what was going to be in the picture?”

“You had to put your eye up to the  corner. There was something like a little window. And when you looked through it,  you could see what was going to be in the photo.”

“Oh.” She paused, as if she were trying to put together the pieces of a puzzle. “Well, I guess it was a good thing you could just go  to CVS and plug up the camera to see the pictures before you got them printed out. That way you wouldn’t have to pay for any bad ones.”

“Oh, Julia,” I laughed. “You couldn’t even plug these cameras up to a computer anywhere. The person who owned the camera had to take the film out of it and then send it off to be developed. It would take several days, sometimes up to a whole week, before you would get the photos back. Most places didn’t have the one-hour developing. And even if they did, you still had to pay for the bad ones.”

Cocking her head to the side, Julia asked, “Then … why did you bother?  It seems like back in the old days, taking a picture must have been a lot of work. And it certainly was not instant.”

With that, she flounced out of the room, satisfied that her mother had indeed grown up in the stone age.

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letterI

 

I is for Instant.

Since the crazy conversation with my daughter, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about this instant era in which we are living. It’s not just the digital pictures, either.

We have instant communication through text messages, emails, Facebook, Twitter and other social media.  There’s instant banking through online services or ATM. The news is so instant I can practically read about it as it happens. And if I am bored, then I can stream a movie instantly to my computer or TV.

The result is a life of no waiting. Everything happens at warped speed.

But is this such a good thing, after all?

The Bible talks a lot about waiting on the Lord. I don’t exactly how many verses there are in the Bible on this instruction, but I can think of at least three times the Psalmist encourages us to wait on God:  Psalm 20:22, Psalm 27:14, and Psalm 37:14.

Truthfully, in my life experiences, there have been few things more agonizing or trying than waiting on the Lord to answer a prayer, especially when His answer seems to be slow in coming. Waiting means submitting myself to His authority over my life. Waiting means depending on His timing rather than my own. Waiting means I am giving God the glory and not myself. And yet, that’s exactly what God encourages us to do … wait on Him.

Today I am reminded that though I live in an instant age, it’s good to do some waiting. It helps me learn to lead a life that is more pleasing to God … and besides, a little waiting never hurt anyone.

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. ~ Isaiah 40:31

What’s God asking you to wait for in your life? How is this time increasing your faith?