28 February 2013

Of the Need to Cry

He's our "sensitive one", as we often put it.  The boy who cries for anything.

The boy who cries this morning because his portion of the cartoon-splattered newspaper pages has been ripped - torn nearly in two.  The boy whose low, forced wails only wear on my Momma ears.

"Emmett, please stop crying.  I know you're sad, but it will be ok."  I'm weary from it, the crying, the noise, the chatter.

"It's broken and so I need to cry!" comes his response.

And the truth of it echos.

It's broken, and thus we cry - because we need to.

This world around us, it is broken.  And, yet, do we cry?  Does the brokenness alone break our hearts?  Or are we de-sensitized? Does the chatter, the noise, deaden our ears to the pain?

Am I moved to tears when I see evidence of a child, a herd of children, the un-important ones, digging through garbage in Ethiopia? When I hear of daughters, sisters, being sold like cattle, only for a much more vile purpose, in places on the other side of the world - do these facts paralyze me in sadness?  Or are they just numbers? A fairy-tale of injustice? Someone else's life, someone else's problem?

Jesus wept.

Jesus weeps.

This world is broken and so He has to cry.

This world is broken and His people are unmoved. And He must cry.

Oh, Lord, break my heart over this broken world. And then show me where to move, to heal. To be part of the solution to someone else's problem.  The problem of humanity.

26 February 2013

Of Taking New Steps

On January 15 Joey took his first two steps while he and I played in the living room.  A little more than a month later, we finally pulled out the video camera to capture our new little toddler.  He still has trouble making it more than the distance from one couch to the other on his own two feet, but he sure does love to try.

This act of becoming a walker has truly shown us how independent our little guy is.  While we spent weeks trying to encourage him - standing the little man up and holding out our hands to him - he constantly plopped down on his rear to begin his crawl - every time.  I finally decided he has his whole life to walk, so he might as well take advantage of the hands and knees approach as long as his knees are still padded enough to handle it.  Because goodness knows that goes away all too quickly.

As with all things in life, it was at the moment of our surrender that he finally decided it was his time to shine.  Within days he began to toddle the four steps between Mommy and Daddy (as captured in the below video) all on his own and only days after that he now regularly pushes himself to his own two feet, taking the halting steps in whichever direction he chooses.  True, he still often gets over excited and quickly loses balance, and crawling his still his preferred method of transport, but let it be known our little guy can walk.

Which brings us to my big milestone - our youngest child can walk and I'm NOT currently incubating another.  Such a big step for us all!

(Note: My favorite thing about this video, other than the evidence of his newest ability, is how encouraging his wonderful siblings are. These kids are my greatest gift.)

1,000 Steps:
1101. What once was a curse now is a blessing
1102. A sign I was made for this
1103. First (and second and third) steps
1104. Giving away and still having plenty to give
1105. Quiet times with kids
1106. Her enjoying the music
1107. A little boy offering to help (and doing it well)
1108. Fat flakes in our hair as we get groceries
1109. Grocery shopping with one kid at a time

15 February 2013

Of Asking the Question

As an early teen, I became swept up, as did many others, in the movement among our Christian culture motivating all of us to spread out into the world sporting our many-colored woven bracelets with four bold letters stamped across them: "WWJD?"  Yes, I did.  I had the bracelets.  I had t-shirts, necklaces, keychains.  I, along with many others, felt the daily reminders would keep me in line, following in the footsteps of my Savior.

The funny thing is, only today, two decades after the phrase was coined, do I feel I truly understand what those letters actually meant.  

I asked myself, "What would Jesus do?" as an external motivator.  As if Jesus were just a good standard to live up to.  Jesus did good, therefore I, too, should do good.  It logically follows, then, if I ask myself the question and live by its answer, I will be doing good.

The end.

Yet, is that all He is to me?  A good moral leader?  One whose example is to be admired and followed, as best I can, or is comfortable for me?  Someone whose name adorns my wrist, clothing and other personal effects so they may speak where my words constantly fail to proclaim Him directly?

Of course, we realized long ago that a token bracelet was not the key to living this Christian life and, as with all fads, the movement died down and we went back to our daily lives - living them just the way we'd want to, because the question simply became too bland, too common-place, lost in the shuffle.

How is it I have only just now discovered what it means to ask, "What would Jesus do?" not because I want to be like Him, but because, as one baptized in His name, He is truly to be living through me.  The question, then, is not, "What should I do so I can be like Jesus?" but "What should I do as one through whom Jesus is actually living?"  It's a daily putting aside of my own desires and recognizing, He is in me - therefore my reaction is to be His.  My caring for others is to be His caring for others.  My body is to be daily living out His actions.  I am not my own.  I am His.  What, then, if I were truly giving myself over to Him, would I be doing?  What would He be doing through me?

15 years ago, it was my striving to fulfill that question to the best of my ability.  Today it is my allowing Jesus to answer it through me, to the best of His infinite ability.

So I'm asking myself the question again today.  What will I allow Him to accomplish in me and through me?  What would Jesus do?  What will He do?

1097. Dead flowers that still speak, "I love you."
1098. The comfort of a compassionate daughter, "Don't cry, Mommy, don't cry."
1099. First world problems in perspective
1100. A decision that my life is over; His must begin

12 February 2013

Of Our Penguin's First Year

Joey completed his first year of life at 7:59 this morning.  As of 8am we have a one-year-old in this house again.

A fact that makes me smile is that, for a brief time in the middle of this celebratory day, it was snowing, much like it did the day he was born - and if you know Oklahoma winters (particularly these past two), you'll know having snow on the exact same day two years in a row (especially when they represent only half of the occasions it has snowed in our area over the entirety these two years), you'll know it's a downright miracle.  I like to think it's due to the nickname his sister gave him before he was born.  Because a Penguin needs his snow.

At this point in his life, he is already a talker - his most common words are "ball" (definitely his favorite toy), "thank you," and "bye-bye" (though some of us swear we heard him say, "Hi, Aunt Dayla" just the other day).  He doesn't walk yet, but he sure can cruise along any object, toddle while holding a hand and take his own steps while pushing an object.  The only thing standing between him and full-out running is a lack of confidence in his ability to balance himself.

He loves to climb.  Of all our children, he is the climbing-est.  He can tackle a full set of stairs with no reservations (despite the cries of his parents who are slightly more aware of his inability to successfully descend those same steps).  He regularly climbs the step-stool in front of the toy kitchen to tinker in the plastic sink.  He has taken his fair share of tumbles from this same stool, resulting, already, in many bruises and one teeth-cut lip, but he is determined and tough - one spill (or two or three) will not keep him from doing what he loves.  Likewise with discipline.  A swatted hand is a small price to pay for playing with those buttons (whether on the phone or any remote he can get in his hands), a cost he most willingly pays over and over again.  Persistence and perseverance are his defining attributes.

Cooking for Momma

While typically rather serious and slow to show anything other than a blank stare to someone new, he can be such a little ham - he loves the camera.  Most children stop what they're doing when the camera is pulled out, and so does this guy, but only to grin as wide as he can, showing off his only four teeth, declaring, "Eeee!"

Cheesing for the camera while riding Horsey Gram

He is most happy when he is involved with others.  He enjoys being around his brother and sister most - they bring the giggles (and, yes, the tears) out of this otherwise-rather-stoic little man - and he regularly chases them from room to room just to be with them (he also clambers onto Sissy's bed quite eagerly whenever possible - but this might have more to do with his love of climbing).

Sharing the giant cardboard box with Emmett

He is also quite helpful, putting things away when asked (well, about half the time) and even helped Mommy with the laundry for the first time yesterday (well, other than just scattering previously-folded clothing) - first taking things from the dryer to put them in the basket and then hugging the small items of clothing she gave him to toss into the dryer.  He was quite happy to help.

All of these developments in just one year - we can only imagine what his vast future holds.

1,000 Gifts:
1093. A year full of life
1094. Fluffy white flakes falling to the earth
1095. Offering a listening ear
1096. A weekend with the grandparents

09 February 2013

Of 52 Weeks

52 weeks ago tonight, I was headed to bed, a little sad and a little anxious.

This baby inside me had been due nine days before and, what concerned me most was the idea that the closer I got to Thursday without a baby meant the closer I came to facing an induction - the one thing I had wanted so badly to avoid with this baby.  A Pitocin-free birth in the comfort of my home is what I had looked forward to since before this little being was even formed in my womb.

Going to bed that Saturday night without a baby in my arms meant waking up that Sunday morning to another crowd of friendly, sympathetic faces, with their looks of pity and surprise upon seeing my continually swelling belly.  Another round of, "No, still no baby, yet!" with a false smile to hide the growing frustration.

What I was not expecting was to be sending my two oldest children to church the following morning as I snuggled my fresh-from-the-womb son in those very arms I had so lamented for being empty the night before.

I had not expected the early morning pains, the ones that made my toes curl and my words stop.  The ones that were so sporadically spaced I could not determine if the call to the midwife should be made or if I needed to hold off.  I had not anticipated the hour of longing to push while forcing myself to wait, trusting I could do all things through the strength of my Savior, knowing my panicked, yet re-assuring, husband was not at all ready to welcome a tiny life to this world on his own.

I hadn't even considered I might be pushing this baby into the waiting arms of an assistant I had met only once or twice before, whose baby-delivering skills were the most valuable asset in that room.  Or that the midwife would be walking into a room newly calmed from the preceding chaos and a baby boy only five minutes old.

All before the other children even woke up.

I didn't know I wouldn't be the one dressing them up in their pre-Valentine's best or ushering them out the door.

More than anything else, I had no idea how my heart could swell to love another human being with the same intensity I felt for those other two who had previously passed from my womb.

Oh how pregnant with anticipation and surprise was that one Saturday night.

Fifty-two weeks ago.

1,000 Gifts:
1087. A not-even-one-year-old face smiling, "Cheese!"
1088. Birthday cake
1089. Siblings, bringing gifts to their brother, eager to help
1090. A birthday celebration covered with the love of family
1091. Precious conversations with my little ones.
1092. A precocious exclamation: "I feel like a woman hurting everywhere!" 

07 February 2013

Of Sweet Conversations

[While his sister colors at the table]:
Emmett: "Mommy, can I color?"
Me: "Yes."
Emmett [not hearing me]: "Can I color?  Can I color?  Can I color?  Can I color?"
Micaiah: "Emmett!  If she doesn't answer, it just means 'yes'!"
I do not recall implementing that rule.

[Talking about the Science Museum]:
Me: "Well, baby, I don't know if we can go back to the one in Oklahoma soon, because that one costs money."
Micaiah: "Daddy has money."
Me: "This is true."
Emmett: "Mommy has money!"
Micaiah: "No, Mommy doesn't have money.  Mommy only has cards!"
Let it be known, Mommy actually uses cash much more frequently than plastic, but I do most of my grocery shopping solo, so apparently she does not know this fact.

[Talking about our neighbors' beautiful baby girl, Micaiah was sad over the fact she still has no sister]:
Micaiah: "I wanted a baby girl."
Emmett: "When you get bigger and be a Momma, you can have a baby girl!"
Micaiah: "Not if God gives me a boy; and I don't have anyone to be my husband."
Emmett: "I'll be your husband!"
Micaiah: "No, Momma says you can't be my husband; you can only be the uncle!"
Love how encouraging he is.

[While discussing why she no longer plays with her imaginary dog, Bolt, and, instead, prefers the imaginary cat, Mittens]
Micaiah: "Mommy, I changed my mind.  I like cats better than puppies.  I still like puppies, but I just like cats."
At least, in the case she doesn't find a husband, she has a future as the cat lady.

[While getting ready for bed]:
Emmett: "I can't put on my pajamas!"
Me: "Does Mommy help you put on your pajamas?"
Emmett: "No!"
Me: "Well, if you can't do it, and Mommy doesn't help you, how do your pajamas get on you?  Is it magic?"
Micaiah: "God does it!  God is the Magic Man."
Me: "God is the Magic Man?"
Micaiah: "Yeah, He is so powerful He can tell the waves, 'Stop!' and they do."
She speaks truth.

1,000 Gifts:
1080. Truth from the mouths of Babes
1081. He's not yet one and already climbing up the stool to play at the kitchen
1082. All three of them, snuggled up for story time
1083. Wizard of Oz, for the first time
1084. Family Time at Wal-Mart
1085. Game time with my man
1086. OETA Movie Club