Zachary. The Teen. Oh My.

 

 

grandpazach

 

 

zach46

 

 

 

 

Thirteen years ago life had changed forever. I went to bed the night before, wondering when this little one would make their appearance. I awoke at 3am and knew the time had come. I remember those first few hours wondering if this was really it…waiting to wake Steve, then waiting to call our doctor. Picking up my parents from the hotel on our way up Oak Street in Vancouver to the Women’s Hospital; Mom greeting me with a cup of ice chips for the short drive.

zach2

 

Steve’s folks were flying across the country as we were in labor. We were all in anticipation of this first-born of ours. Everything changes with this first child. Everything is new.

zach3

 

 

zach47

 

 

 

Zachary was mature from the start. He came out aware and calm; even the nurses took notice of the calm nature he had.  We never could have known how much delight parenthood would bring, and Zach, you have been the forerunner of our little clan.

zach5Every birthday is special, but there is something unique about entering these teen years. Years ago, the church we attended in Vancouver had a very wise pastor. He taught a summer series one year answering questions from the congregation, and one was about parenting. We were brand new parents, but what he said has always stuck with me: he said to never say we were dreading the teen years. He talked about how it always bothered him to hear parents tell of how much they worried about, or dreaded the coming teen years, and how instead he told his children how much he looked forward to their teenage years.  Steve and I both resonated deeply with that sentiment, and now we find ourselves with our teenage boy…we can confidently say we look forward to your teenage years.

 

zach27

zach15zach53

 

zach9

Through the years you have surprised us and delighted us. You are smart, funny and compassionate. You amaze us with your memory and your ability to tackle new subjects and information with such ease. Ever since you were a toddler, you have been easy to talk to you and had a conversational style that was more like talking with an adult.

zach10

zach23

You are a great big brother, even if there are moments when your siblings drive you crazy…or you drive them crazy. You care for them and it is evident…and they look up to you.

 

zach6

 

 

zach45

 

zach41

 

zach14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GrantMaddie

Competitive and enthusiastic in your hockey; it has been so much fun to watch you develop over the last four years

zach36

zach38

zach48

 

zach33zach40

 

We cannot wait to see what the future holds for you, especially to see the unique giftings that God has given you. These are the years when delight is heightened, and when heartbreak happens. Everything is bigger and brighter and deeper. Remind us how amazing it all is…sometimes we forget.

 

zach65

We know that you will do well, whatever you decide to pursue. You have matured before our eyes in the last few months, and we are so proud of the man you are becoming.

 

Happy Birthday, Zachary! Welcome to Teenage-hood!!

zach61

Advertisements

Take a Name. Pray

photo

 

Anyone who has read here for more than a day or two is familiar with this face. Miss Maddie. She truly has brought joy and delight to our home. She has expanded our hearts, all of us.

 

I cannot imagine what would happen to our home if she was taken from us. I don’t know how I would breathe, how I would function. I cannot imagine the terror…and I do not want to even attempt.

 

And yet…

 

 

These women know this terror. They know it too well, and they have raised their voices and they have caught our attention. I don’t have to say anything more. I only have to show that one image and you already know.

 

Young girls, kidnapped. Stolen to prove a point, to be used and to be sold…to protest against Western education. Brutally tearing apart families, and terrorizing these young girls to change the culture back to oppression.

 

We have all seen many of the images. We have heard the cries of the women, and hopefully we are following the story and raising our voices as we can. Sometimes it is difficult to know exactly how we “help” in these situations.

 

This morning I came across something I could get my arms, and my prayers, around.  I came across this article with the names of 180 of the 276 missing girls, calling for us to pray for them by name.  I thought I would add one further step…pray for one by name, and one who is nameless.

 

I apologize in advance that I will be quoting a fair bit of Chesterton in the coming weeks as I make my way through a few books on him, as well as many of his writings. This was in my reading this morning, and it struck me deeply as I thought of these girls:

 

“The world is the fortress of our family, with the flag flying on the turret, and the more miserable it is the less we should leave it. The point is not that this world is too sad to love or too glad not to love; the point is that when you do love a thing, its gladness is a reason for loving it, and its sadness a reason for loving it more….Love is not blind. Love is bound; and the more it is bound the less it is blind.”

G. K. Chesterton – Orthodoxy

We are not blind, even if we cannot and would not wish to imagine the terror these girls are facing. And now we have their names. To pray. To speak their names and to pray. As was suggested in the post I read this morning, take a name and share it…you can share here in the comments or on your FaceBook or Twitter…but take a name. Pray.

Lord…have mercy on these girls. Protect them. Shield them. Guard them. Guide them home.

I am praying for Docus Yakubu. And the nameless one with her.

Who will you pray for?

 

 

 

 

Deborah Abge, Awa Abge, Hauwa Yirma, Asabe Manu, Mwa Malam Pogu, Patiant Dzakwa, Saraya Mal Stover, Mary Dauda, Gloria Mainta, Hanatu Ishaku Gloria Dama, Tabitha Pogu, Maifa Dama, Ruth Kollo, Esther Usman, Awa James, Anthonia Yahonna, Kume Mutah, Aisha Ezekial, Nguba Buba, Kwanta Simon, Kummai Aboku, Esther Markus, Hana Stephen, Rifkatu Amos, Rebecca Mallum, Blessing Abana, Ladi Wadai, Tabitha Hyelampa, Ruth Ngladar, Safiya Abdu, Na’omi Yahonna, Solomi Titus, Rhoda John, Rebecca Kabu, Christy Yahi, Rebecca Luka, Laraba John, Saratu Markus, Mary Usman, Debora Yahonna, Naomi Zakaria, Hanatu Musa, Hauwa Tella, Juliana Yakubu, Suzana Yakubu, Saraya Paul, Jummai Paul, Mary Sule, Jummai John, Yanke Shittima, Muli Waligam, Fatima Tabji, Eli Joseph, Saratu Emmanuel, Deborah Peter, Rahila Bitrus, Luggwa Sanda, Kauna Lalai, Lydia Emmar, Laraba Maman, Hauwa Isuwa, Confort Habila, Hauwa Abdu, Hauwa Balti, Yana Joshua, Laraba Paul, Saraya Amos, Glory Yaga, Na’omi Bitrus, Godiya Bitrus, Awa Bitrus, Na’omi Luka, Maryamu Lawan, Tabitha Silas, Mary Yahona, Ladi Joel, Rejoice Sanki, Luggwa Samuel, Comfort Amos, Saraya Samuel, Sicker Abdul, Talata Daniel.Rejoice Musa, Deborah Abari, Salomi Pogu, Mary Amor, Ruth Joshua, Esther John, Esther Ayuba, Maryamu Yakubu, Zara Ishaku, Maryamu Wavi, Lydia Habila, Laraba Yahonna, Na’omi Bitrus, Rahila Yahanna, Ruth Lawan, Ladi Paul, Mary Paul, Esther Joshua, Helen Musa, Margret Watsai, Deborah Jafaru, Filo Dauda, Febi Haruna, Ruth Ishaku, Racheal Nkeki, Rifkatu Soloman, Mairama Yahaya, Saratu Dauda, Jinkai Yama, Margret Shettima, Yana Yidau, Grace Paul, Amina Ali, Palmata Musa, Awagana Musa, Pindar Nuhu, Yana Pogu, Saraya Musa, Hauwa Joseph, Hauwa Kwakwi, Hauwa Musa, Maryamu Musa, Maimuna Usman, Rebeca Joseph, Liyatu Habitu, Rifkatu Yakubu, Naomi Philimon, Deborah Abbas, Ladi Ibrahim, Asabe Ali, Maryamu Bulama, Ruth Amos, Mary Ali, Abigail Bukar, Deborah Amos, Saraya Yanga, Kauna Luka, Christiana Bitrus, Yana Bukar, Hauwa Peter, Hadiza Yakubu, Lydia Simon, Ruth Bitrus, Mary Yakubu, Lugwa Mutah, Muwa Daniel, Hanatu Nuhu, Monica Enoch, Margret Yama, Docas Yakubu, Rhoda Peter, Rifkatu Galang, Saratu Ayuba, Naomi Adamu, Hauwa Ishaya, Rahap Ibrahim, Deborah Soloman, Hauwa Mutah, Hauwa Takai, Serah Samuel, Aishatu Musa, Aishatu Grema, Hauwa Nkeki, Hamsatu Abubakar, Mairama Abubakar, Hauwa Wule, Ihyi Abdu, Hasana Adamu, Rakiya Kwamtah, Halima Gamba, Aisha Lawan, Kabu Malla, Yayi Abana, Falta Lawan, and Kwadugu Manu.

 

 

 

 

Allergic to Wonder

flower1

 

Everything is in bloom. There are, it seems, a limitless number of shades of green all around me at the moment. The trees and the grass and leaves on the flowers and the plants…everything is crying, “Life!”

flower

 

The temperature has warmed, and the desire is there to be outside. The pull is there to work in the garden, to add a touch to the beauty that is natural.

flower3

 

flower4

 

The only problem is…I cannot breathe when I go outside. The allergies this year have been brutal. Not only does my chest tighten and I begin to cough and reach for my inhaler, but my eyelids break out in hives. The back of my knees break out as well, and my eyes become red. I last for just a few moments before I have to return to the shelter of the house and reach for something to help stave off the effects of pollen.

 

The beauty around me draws me, and yet because of this flaw, because of this brokenness, I just cannot take it all in.

 

I cannot enjoy the wonder.

 

Some are not bothered in the least by allergies, but thoroughly embrace the changing of the season.

Outside2

Today we blew up the inflatable water slide and Sammy, Maddie and a buddy had a ball. They didn’t notice the colors of the leaves and the grass and the flowers. The didn’t notice way the water splashed and caught the sunlight.

 

Outside3

Outside1

 

 

They didn’t stop and contemplate.  They just jumped in and enjoyed the wonder. The feel of it all and the delight.

Outside

 

They played in the water, and they broke apart a “fossil” Sammy had made in Science class.

 

smashingsam4smashingsam3smashingsam2

“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.” -G.K. Chesterton in Orthodoxy

 

I love this quotation from Chesterton, and have used it often, probably because I need to hear it myself. We need to kick around in the water slide a little with an almost three year old and a few boys. We need that prompt of childhood that doesn’t have to analyze the wonder, but steps in and tastes it and feels it and delights.

We have to learn to belly-laugh again!

 

There is something deeper, though. There are times when wonder takes our breath away. There are times when something is so beautiful – whether it is a sunset or an infant – that it brings an ache to our heart. That ache, I think, tells us that we know we cannot fully take it in because we ourselves are not completely whole yet. We cannot give ourselves completely to the wonder around us until we are whole, and we know that somehow.

 

Sometimes, the brokenness we have and the wounds we have gathered hover around us and cling to us. They become a boundary like the allergies in the Spring. We can see the wonder from a distance…maybe even gather the strength to embrace it for a moment, but we start to break out in hives if we get too close something beautiful for too long.  We are more comfortable with pain and with chaos and with suffering…we are more familiar with crisis.

 

There is much around us to weep over. The state of the girls in Nigeria. The situation that continues in Ukraine. The ongoing saga of Pastor Saeed. The abuses of children that continue to make headlines. Brokenness. Sin. Wounds.

 

There is, however, much around us to bring delight. There is wonder, and it is not wrong to delight in wonder….even when there are wounds around us.  This life will always be a balancing act.

This week is leading towards Mother’s Day. Like billboard reminder that my Mother is present and yet…not.

 

Another marker and reminder of brokenness. Hindrance to the wonder, or another opportunity to reflect?

 

And yet…I have four little wonders right around my feet delighting in life, and calling me into wonder and laughter and life. Balance…the awareness of the absolute wonder of love and life and spirit that God has blessed, alongside the awareness of brokenness and need for His grace and salvation.

 

So…we run into the wonder as we can, and we know that sometimes it will overwhelm with the very richness that makes it wonder-filled. The reality of wonder may highlight our pain at times, and may heighten our awareness of the need for healing. We may only be able to delight in wonder for a moment, and then have to run back into our shelter and recoup. Sometimes the wonder itself will bring healing, will bring refreshment.

 

Some day, we will be healed and whole and able to splash and delight and embrace and love whole-heartedly and with abandon. For now, maybe our artists and our singers and our children will be those who help us learn to move in our brokenness and embrace the wonder. They can draw us from our brokenness, and from our habits of hiding, and give us the voice to delight in wonder. Even when we are in pain.

 

 

 

The Color Green

“And the moon is a sliver of silver
Like a shaving that fell on the floor of a Carpenter’s shop
And every house must have it’s builder
And I awoke in the house of God
Where the windows are mornings and evenings
Stretched from the sun
Across the sky north to south
And on my way to early meeting
I heard the rocks crying out
I heard the rocks crying out

Be praised for all Your tenderness by these works of Your hands
Suns that rise and rains that fall to bless and bring to life Your land
Look down upon this winter wheat and be glad that You have made
Blue for the sky and the color green that fills these fields with praise

And the wrens have returned and they’re nesting
In the hollow of that oak where his heart once had been
And he lifts up his arms in a blessing for being born again
And the streams are all swollen with winter
Winter unfrozen and free to run away now
And I’m amazed when I remember
Who it was that built this house
And with the rocks I cry out

Be praised for all Your tenderness by these works of Your hands
Suns that rise and rains that fall to bless and bring to life Your land
Look down upon this winter wheat and be glad that You have made
Blue for the sky and the color green

Be praised for all Your tenderness by these works of Your hands
Suns that rise and rains that fall to bless and bring to life Your land
Look down upon this winter wheat and be glad that You have made
Blue for the sky and the color green that fills these fields with praise”

Rich Mullins