Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Sweet, Sensitive Spirit

Yesterday wasn't an easy day for me and my little man.  

First, daddy is traveling.  We understand and accept that travel season is a necessary evil, but that doesn't mean we have to like it.  I don't sleep when he is not here.  Little man, at the age of two and some months, totally gets it now that the duffle bag and/or the small, red suitcase mean his hero won't be coming home from work at his usual time every afternoon.  So we both began our day missing the main man in our lives. 

Second, it was a cold and rainy day.  Cold is fine; that's what jackets and mittens are made for.  Rainy is fine - when it's not cold.  But the combination of the two is this toddler's nightmare because it equals being stuck inside all day - and dude needs his outside time.  There are only so many pages in the Mickey Mouse coloring book to be scribbled on and a finite number of times I can read the same books over and over.  The Fisher Price Little People can sail in the ark, fly in the airplane, hover in the helicopter, or take a ride in the school bus, but all of those voyages get boring when the scenery never changes.  Play-Doh is not our friend when it becomes an afternoon snack (no, ours isn't homemade, not that it's any better for eating). And tents, puzzles, drawing pads, and trucks lose their appeal after so many hours.

Third, mommy's patience ran out around 5:00.  Missing my man, preparing for a trip that will take me away from my guys for a week (an emotional time bomb), and dealing with constant whining that is the plight of a two year old without the benefit of outdoor activity did me in.  The hours of 5-8 p.m. were probably some of my most shining moments of how NOT to be a good mother.  Everybody, including the stuffed animals and the Fisher Price Little People, was crying at some point during those hours.

Finally it was bedtime...yay!  Pj's on, teeth brushed, and little man crawls into my lap for his bedtime story from the Jesus Storybook Bible, jabbering away about where daddy is and whether or not he is sleeping in his office.  When it's time to pray he lays his head on my chest and nestles into the crook of my arm like a little baby and closes his eyes, grinning because he knows good and well that he won't keep them closed.  "Dear Jesus," we say together.  I go on to pray and dude occasionally chimes in with things God may or may not actually need to know.  Then I ask God to forgive mommy for losing her patience in so many ways earlier in the day.  I tell God and Toby I'm sorry and that I hope they can both forgive me.  At that moment I feel little man's body jerk; I open my eyes and look down to see his eyes tightly closed, his bottom lip rolled out and quivering, and a tiny little puddle of tear in the corner of his eye.  My initial thought was, "Oh my gosh, he's reacting to me saying I'm sorry and asking forgiveness," but then I thought, "He's only two; that's not possible.  He doesn't understand what I'm saying."  So I asked him what was wrong and if he was OK.  The tear puddle spilled over as he threw his arms around my neck, put his face cheek-to-cheek with mine and squeezed as hard as he could saying, "Oh, mommy, I stoddy mommy. I'm ud dyu mommy!" (Toddler translation - I'm sorry, I love you.) 

My tears gushed as I realized that his sweet, sensitive little spirit understood exactly what I was saying.  I asked him again to forgive me and told him I was sorry as his grip tightened around my neck.  In his own way he was telling me it's alright mommy; we both had a hard day. We finished our prayer and said 'Amen,' but I couldn't bring myself to put him in the bed.  So I sat there.  He snuggled back down into my arm, head on my chest, and within a few minutes was fast asleep.  I've been humbled.  And I get it.

If only we all felt each other's pain this way and forgave and loved this easily and freely...
Lord, help me to do just that.

Matthew 19:14

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Clean Britches

My two year old has always liked the way I loudly and somewhat melodiously (not really), in my best attempt at being a baritone, sing the phrase "clean britches" to him while hauling him to the changing table to handle yet another "stinky-shooey."  He laughs and tries to imitate me.  Moments later, sporting an unsoiled diaper and the fresh scent of baby wipes, he bounds through the house with a little spring in his step.  Getting clean will do that for you.

At some other point in time I texted a friend.  I apologized for the time (some ridiculous hour before the sun came up), saying I had to send the message before I got sucked back into the world of diapers and dump trucks and totally forgot.  In her reply she chuckled and said that would be a great name for a blog.

And suddenly there it was, on a screen; confirmation of the nudging I'd been feeling in my spirit for months.  Writing has been part of who I am for as long as I can remember.  I knew as far back as fifth grade when I won the Lt. Governor's Award for writing that regardless of whether or not anyone ever read another word I wrote, there would never be a time in my life when I would not feel compelled to put pen to paper.  

After a few failed attempts at getting my writing noticed I spent many years writing only for myself or my students.  I became a blogger while I was a missionary serving in Iquitos, Peru because it was the easiest way to maintain communication with my supporters while also giving me time to hone my craft and begin to find my voice.  On my return trip to the U.S. I managed to contract a raging case of writer's block.  A mere six posts over the past three years, that's it.  Other than journaling that's all the writing I've done.

But God has been speaking to my heart now for longer than I would like to admit.  He's been calling me to write.  Not for me, but for Him.  I haven't been listening.  Well, I have, but I've been ignoring Him.  Fear has paralyzed me.  Fear of the rejection and stinging criticism of something so personal.  Yet each time I say I'm scared He replies, "It's not about you."  As only God operates, He initiated a string of events, a series of coincidences (i.e. random encounters with just the right people, particular Facebook posts or specific Tweets, a book, a free opportunity to hear 20 different leaders, writers, and speakers, etc.) to be the bonk on the forehead necessary to spur me to action.  I took notice.  I mean, there are only so many bonks you can endure before you get a headache!

Last night I listened to Glennon Doyle Melton, a highly sought after author and speaker among Christian women, talk about her fears, and the messiness and history of addiction that is her life, and her desire to be authentic.  Then midnight rolled around and Friday became Saturday - October 10 - a very important day in our family - my little boy's Adoption Day.  I sat on my couch in the 2 a.m. silence and prayed, my heart pounding so hard and loud I was scared it would wake everyone up, and said yes to God's call.  If He has gone to the trouble to orchestrate a thousand circumstances to get my attention, and caused them to simultaneously converge on the day we celebrate a major miracle in our lives, then the time has come for me to walk in obedience. 

To do this right means putting on some clean britches.  Renaming the old blog will not do.  It's time for the fresh scent of a new start.  And my friend was right, Diapers and Dump Trucks is a catchy title.  I like it.  But it's also symbolic.  You see, my life moves in a constant cycle: from a bright white unspoiled canvas, to a dirty mess, to cleaning up the mess (diapers), to hauling off the mess (dump trucks), to breaking out another blank slate and starting over again.  So here I am on a brand new blog, ready to see where God takes me.