This is not right, it is not how it should be.

“Can you give me the numbers I need if I want to call you?”

“Sure.” I repeated the numbers for the third time.

“So, those are the numbers I can use to mail you something?”

These are the common conversations with my mother. Repetition. Confusion. She doesn’t know how to spell many words, and doesn’t read very well. I’ve learned not to worry about if she gets the numbers correct, or if I give her the whole address. She is content to have written something down. She doesn’t call like she used to though…she can only call with Dad.

I miss when she would call frequently. I miss when she would send notes or little gifts…like the gift she got at the makeup counter and thought I would like.

I miss when her mind was whole.

She planned and orchestrated and amazing wedding for Steve and I. I mean amazing. I mean the kind of wedding I still get comments on 14 years later. She was the master of pulling together details and making things look elegant.

She hasn’t lost all of that. She still dresses herself well and in coordinating jewelry and hair bands.

Still. I miss the days when she could delight in children. She loved babies and loved children. When we were expecting Zachary, almost 11 years ago, she and my dad came to Vancouver to help us. They came in the door doing a little dance and singing “We’re the doulas, we’re the doulas”…then they scrubbed our house and made the transition to being parents as easy as possible.

She would laugh and tell stories to the kids.

Now she gets impatient with the older children, and her delight in Maddie is, as I’ve said before, the delight of anyone in a baby…not the delight of a Grandmother with her granddaughter.

I do not like to think about these things. I do not like to because it is hard to fight back the tears when I think on who we are missing. It is, as I’ve said before, a long mourning as we watch her slowly change from an elegant and commanding woman to a child-like, confused woman.
It is not right, and it is not as it should be.

22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? Romans 8:22-24

Creation knows. We know. There is an ache deep within us that things are not as they should be….as they could be.

Sometimes I try to ignore that ache and that mourning. Sometimes, though, I think we need to be taught to mourn well…even in the midst of circumstances. I often want to hold back the tears until the day that Mom is completely gone. I think it is partly because that will also be celebration because we believe that she will be redeemed in her body and she will be finally complete.

For now, though, this was one of the main reasons for starting this blog. To have a place to write about this experience. It sucks. No way around that…and yet even in this there are things to be learned.

Yesterday was mom’s birthday. The boys called and sang to her and she loved it. She knew in that moment that she was loved and that these were her grandchildren. That was a great moment. That is to be celebrated…and the painful moments are to be mourned. Mourned with hope, though, that ultimately things will be as they should be.

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These Days are a Wonder.

I have an article I linked to on FaceBook, and saw that many friends shared as well. The article talks about the burden sometimes we moms feel when someone older tells us to treasure every moment with our kids. I thought the contrast between chronos time and kairos time was good. There are moments that are different….there are moments when we are aware of God’s reality that goes beyond the things we see and the mundane.

 

Still…something nagged at me about this article.

 

I’ve had the older women, and men, say that I should treasure every moment with my children. I’ve had the days when everything went wrong…the kids fought and cried and I felt like a lump, completely unmotivated. I’ve had the days with sick kids making a mess, in the car. On the floor. Everywhere.

 

I’ve had the days I wish I was doing something else.

 

Yet…I already feel that ache deep inside my core of how fast these days vanish.  Madeleine changes before our eyes, it seems. Zachary is almost as tall as I am.  There are days I feel a distance with Nate as he comes into his own. Sammy already seems to change by the moment between wanting to be held and killing zombies on Halo Reach with Zachary. Some days he wants me to lay by him on the bean bag while he kills zombies on Halo Reach. I’m not sure where that fits in.

 

The point is…I click my camera, I film, I record…I press these things into my mind and heart and try to make them permanent. I don’t want to lose what it feels like to have Madeleine delight in seeing me or Steve…absolutely delight that we are with her. I don’t want to lose what it feels like to be mom to little ones.

 

It is magical.

 

It is a glimmer of God’s delight in us.

 

I also can’t wait to see the men my boys become and the woman Madeleine becomes…because I think they are going to be amazing.

 

The mundane days are the foundation that is going to make those men and that woman. What happens now is important…it is not just getting through the day. My delight in them, I am realizing, teaches them to delight in themselves and who God has created them to be. They are not a burden…they are a wonder.

 

I’ll still be bummed when I have to clean up messes after them. I’ll still get frustrated when they fight or when they disobey. They’ll still have moments they annoy me. But, I think the challenge to treasure every moment is worth hearing. We can’t really fulfill it…but we can try. And when we are overwhelmed and frustrated we can try to remember that these are treasures that have been entrusted to us for a season. Snotty noses and all.

 

I really like the idea of when I am the older woman buying the young mom’s groceries and having them take them out to the car for her. I thought that was brilliant, and I hope I’m able to park at the store and do that a lot. That would be fantastic. For now, I’ll listen to those challenges from those mom’s who have gone before….and know that this ache I feel now is what they are feeling, but on the other side, without being able to still scoop up little ones and hold them tight before they grow too big. What a wonder this parenthood journey is.

 

Tebow to Bonhoeffer…thoughts on examples of the faith

I have to admit I watched some of the Broncos Patriots game tonight. I probably watched all of about ten minutes, and I think I watched some of one other game. I’ve watched a few interviews with Tebow and watched a video when he was recorded as he talked during the game to players, etc.  That’s about it for my direct knowledge of Tebow.

I have a lot of second-hand knowledge. Mainly because my Facebook feed blows up with comments about him after every game. He does seem to be a polarizing character in our culture. There is almost a litmus test among some as to the strength of our faith based on our admiration of Tebow.

This makes me nervous. Now, don’t get me wrong. Everything I have seen or read about Tebow himself points to a young man of character, of humility and of genuine faith. What makes me nervous is how he is being pushed into the limelight as such an example of faith. We should celebrate that this is a young man who is a great example, and we should be thrilled that there is a strong Christian in sports to look up to. He’s not the only one, but he’s a great example. However, I am nervous for him about the turn of the tide if he does not maintain success…and tonight was a bit of a taste of that.

I have boys. Three of them. The oldest is ten and he is a sports fan. He’s aware of Tim Tebow, although not obsessed with him. We’ve talked a bit about the way Tebow has been confident in his faith and has been more than that humble and kind in how he has interacted with people.

Tebow has been a source of conversation about our faith, and that is wholly good.

While I’ve been listening to the discussion on Tebow in the background, I’ve been reading the biography on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, listening to a series of lectures by Gideon Strauss about the Truth and Reconcilition Commission and thinking about heroes of the faith. Gideon’s lectures talk about the horrors of Apartheid, about the way he moved from Wonder to Heartbreak to Hope as he translated these stories while reading through the Psalms. The stories leave you speechless.

Listening to the stories of Bonhoeffer and Strauss have everything to do in my mind with Tebow.

I am thrilled that my oldest, Zachary, has a chance to have a role model in sports who is not ashamed of the Gospel. I am thrilled that he has an example to look to of a strong young man living strongly in the faith.  However, it is a sense of the celebrity and celebration of the faith.  There is a sense of the “success” of a Christian, and there is a hesitancy for me with that.

See,  I watch my son who live vicariously through many things. He has an avatar he uses to play role-playing games where he blows things up or lives out some other fantasy in amazing graphics and with great success. When he is not doing that he dreams of being an NHL star. He watches these stars and dreams of being able to live that life. He talks big and dreams big, and that is what he should be doing, but he needs to be informed by more than just the successes of the stars.

There needs to be a side informing his faith that tells of those who have sacrificed greatly, those who have suffered greatly and those who have seen God be faithful in the midst of times of horror.

He needs to be tempered with the reality of the faithful…

The story Gideon shares is of deep suffering and of God meeting him in the midst of hearing story after story of deep suffering.

Zachary needs to hear this.

See, I think it is great that Tebow shares his faith. He has faced objections and ridicule, but he is paid well and he also faces great appreciation and admiration.  It is sad that it is remarkable that in that setting he is strong in the faith. In a time when people are hungry for something good and something to celebrate, he has been a wonderful distraction. It’s great for Zachary to see that.

I’m wandering a bit in my thoughts….but the point I’m trying to bring across is this:

Praise God for Tim Tebow. Praise God for his testimony, and for his faithfulness and for his willingness to be paraded as an example of faith.

Oh, but weep and be struck to no words before God as we think of those who have endured such deep suffering at the hands of humans who have hated…and who have yet found God to be faithful.

And even more so, be humbled and silenced by the testimony of those who have gone willingly into suffering to minister and to share the name of God.

So, I pray that my boys and my Madeleine will know that there is such a rich history around them of saints, and I pray that they will listen well to the words of each of these. Those who have walked in ease and been faithful in plenty and success, and those who have walked in pain and been faithful in fear and yet held on to hope.

Out with the Old, in with the New

I know that today is actually the 2nd, but yesterday was the last day with all the family home and I didn’t feel like thinking too hard. Today is a taste of the return of routine as Steve is back at work, although the boys have one last day of freedom before returning to school. So, in the quiet of the morning today is a good chance to welcome 2012.

I was thinking a bit about New Year’s resolutions and why they are so hard, and something struck me. Maybe it will resound with you as well.

New Year’s Resolutions are difficult because they cause us to look back over the previous year and see all that was wrong. The end of the year reminds me that I am not physically who I would like to be; I would like to lose some weight. The end of the year reminds me that I am not spiritually who I would like to be; I have not developed yet the disciplines that I would like to have as habit. The end of the year reminds me that I am not in character who I would like to be; I yell at my children more than I would like and judge people I barely know more than I should.

Those are not easy things, and to write up a list of resolutions…lose weight, read the Bible more, be kinder….is a simplified acknowledgement that I am not who I would like to be.

It is easy to laugh off the resolutions, or to make some that are simply unachievable, but maybe it is just the fact that the house is quiet and the coffee is good this morning…but I thought I’d let this end of 2011 and welcoming of 2012 hit me a little more fully today.

As I sit and have my Bible open to Genesis to start the chronological one year reading I am struck by three things that mark who I am, and who I have consistently been.

Selfish. Arrogant. Lazy.

Honestly. Those are the three that I struggle the most against. And those are the three characteristics that keep holding on. I am selfish with my time and my pursuits, and I am arrogant in constantly thinking that I know better than the vast majority of humanity. I condescendingly judge people on a whim. And I’d easily spend the day playing Farkle and Bejewelled Blitz if no one would interrupt me.

So, 2012, you’ve come reminding me of these dreaded three. So, let’s decide now the three we would like to see evident in your bright and shiny new year…

Graciousness. Humility. Passion.

Note I did not say discipline. I want to wake up, not just follow the rules. I want God to do something in me this year that makes me different, truly. I want deeply to be in His Presence and be changed. Period. And I know that those three would be marks of that encounter.

I do have ‘things’ I hope to do more this year…I already said wine and candles….and I’m adding reading to that list. And music…more music. The flip side of examining the things that we do not like about ourselves that have played out over the past year is the shimmer of excitement that this is a fresh start. The slate is clean and we can try again. Of course, I believe that just pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps isn’t going to last beyond January 15th…..but we can turn our focus back to encountering a living God and that will last.

 

I’m thankful this morning for a quiet last morning of the kids sleeping in. I’m thankful for the ideas that are spinning in my mind of ways this year could be better…although it will be hard to top the arrival of Madeleine Jane in 2011!!

 

I’m thankful for a patient God who hears not only the words of my prayers, but the cry of my heart. He has planted the seed of desire for these changes, and since it is already His work, there is confidence that these changes will happen.

 

So, we’re off, yes? A New Year. Let the change give us time to truly examine our hearts, but without the guilt and shame the enemy of our souls would heap upon us for failing to live up to the resolutions of last year. Confess our sins. Seek our Lord’s face. Look with excitement to the coming year.