Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Small Moments

When I was younger, who was going to be where was a big deal. In fact, when I was 16, I threw a party and the first two calls I made were to the coolest boys at church. I wasn't crushing on either of them, but if they showed up, they would draw numbers and the party would be a success.

As the story goes, both boys came. And I ended up marrying one of them. I would definitely consider that night a win.

I, recently, turned 35. Hands-down my favorite thing about my thirties is the rich contentedness. I still like that same boy to show up to my parties, but beyond that there is a settled peace about our life. And that's saying something with the circus we're trying to run around here. It makes sense why so many kids are embarrassed by their parents actions.

Kids are still working it out; they're excitable. And when excitable bumps up against steady, there is bound to be a reaction.

The other day one of the boys said, "Mom, can I sleep with you tonight?"


"But why? I really want to snuggle...ALL night."

Because I want to snuggle your daddy all night.


There are lots of reasons, but mostly because he keeps my feet warm and gives me really, really, REALLY good kisses. I love kissing your dad.

Immediately I received a "MoMMMM!!!" with an exaggerated eye roll and head shaking.

We don't hide our affection from our kids. In a world of shadowed love and manipulation, it's really important that our kids see our outward displays of love for them and each other. And even though they feign disgust, I think they like to see us playing kissy-face. It makes them feel safe; secure.

And security is on the short list of things we must instill in our kids.

At seven, the boys have already experienced some pressure from their peers. In fact, one of them refused to swim all summer at day camp because someone told him he was fat, during the first week. I wish I could whip up a smoothie that would, instantly, fill our kids with super-knowledge. I want to infuse my experiences all at once to save them from difficulties I've seasoned. Knowing I can't is frustrating. Instead, I have to standby this slow evolution and remind myself that these things take time.

Our sweet Cisco boy came to live with us two and a half years ago, and would you believe that we're, just now, starting to see our son for the first time? Security doesn't happen over night - or even many nights. The same could be said about character, humility, patience, and the like.

We have to be steadfast and we can't let the gut-punches win. There are little people watching. Yes, they see our mess-ups and slipped frustration, but they also see our resolve to do what's right. They value what we value and love what we love.

Ben was outside throwing the football with the boys, this week, after an hour or so, Cisco looked up and said, "I love you, dad."

Small moments matter.

While it will take decades for them to settle into their own identities, there are hundreds of points along the way that our actions drive their roots deep.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Light-Wrapping in the Dark

I am a hard-working, educated mama. For dinner, I had a large salad and chicken pizza, drizzled in barbecue sauce. For dessert, I had a sugared donut from our favorite cider mill. I could call more than a dozen people, right now - this instant - that would show up for me if needed. My bed is warm, my bills are paid, and my morning is full of promise.

I didn't spend much time, today, thinking about the mamas that went without. Actually, I didn't spend any time thinking about anyone. I rushed around trying to do my best to get all my little people to their places. It was one of those days that just didn't work and brought tears more times than not. I exhaled louder than necessary, when I finally sat down in the quiet dark. You know the moment -they're all asleep (you want to sleep) and you drink it in. I love the stillness. It makes total sense that God likes to meet there. I want to LIVE there.

My phone buzzed.

"I'm stuck in a bad situation..."

Sweet Mama.

I put the phone down without reading more, set my head to my hands, and threw out a what-are-you-doing-to-me, "Lord?"

Help her.

"I hear what you're saying, but...." haven't I helped enough? I didn't voice that last part. It sounded better in my head.

Help her.

Our relationship was never easy, but her release from prison has brought an onslaught of uncomfortable conversations and necessary boundaries. I sighed and read the rest of her message.

She needed a safe place to stay. Her roommate was using, her first paycheck undelivered, she had no one to call and no where to go. She apologized for asking, promised to pay me back, and gave me a number to book a weekly-rated motel. I could feel her desperation.

Help her.

Without hesitation, I picked up the phone and called the motel. No room. I, quickly, texted our case worker and asked for resources. Within minutes, she sent me women's shelters and named places to stay clear of.

Everything was full or required in-person payment. The shelters all had wait lists. I was told to call back every day between 8-9am to hold her spot, in hopes that something will open in the coming weeks. For every day I don't call, her name will move further down the list.

I spent 90 minutes scouring the city for a safe haven. Nothing.

My frustration grew with every phone call. Our system fails our kids and, now it's failing her. Sure, Sweet Mama gets help here and services there, but she needs radical intervention - someone to hold her hand and walk her through the mud. With two years of sobriety behind and a heart full of dreams ahead, she is at the point of balance. Anything can happen, but odds point south.

She was forced to stay put, tonight, but we made a plan for the morning. I know God will protect her, but I don't know what that means for me.

Help her.

I wanted to end our relationship three times, this week, but God kept pushing me forward.

In all of his years of ministry, Jesus, certainly, could have used the excuses I've been trying out - this isn't easy; this isn't comfortable; the cost is too great; I've done enough.

But he didn't. And because he didn't, I have salvation, today.

Aren't you glad that Jesus didn't see the soldiers coming and say, "I'm out. THIS is where I draw the line. I've done enough." Wouldn't he have been justified?

As much as I want to resist it, I can't deny the begging of my heart. I don't know what comes next or how this looks. And it's a little terrifying. Okay, it's A LOT terrifying. But, I rest in this - God doesn't abandon us when the monsters of the night creep before us.

Instead, he scatters the darkness and wraps us in light.

We CAN do hard things.