Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fact: I Have a Teenager.

Avonlea is one of those children who can't be rushed.
You can try to rush her, but it really doesn't do any good at all.
I do everything fast.
You can imagine the combo we make.

She was a slow, dreamy little girl. Her eyes often looked right through me. This drove me crazy.
One morning when she was a wisp of a waif of four we were making her bed together. She pulled the comforter up s.l.o.w.l.y. forgetting that the sheet existed. I stood on the other side of the bed tapping my foot in impatience.
Finally I broke, "Avonlea! What are you doing? Are you stupid? The sheet goes first!"
Her response took my breath away.
She looked up at me with wonder in her big brown eyes and said, "I'm not stupid mommy, Jesus loves me. I know I'm not stupid because Jesus died for me."
She knew her worth wasn't in how well she made her bed, her worth was in what Jesus did for her, how He saw her.

Years pass, and I grow to know this daughter like I know my self. She points me to Heaven always. She makes me laugh. She makes me groan.

She turns 13 and she makes me think.

Last week she was signed up to play her harp at a recital combining the students of four different teachers. Her music was memorized, she was ready to go. It was a packed house. She climbed the stairs to the stage and my heart swelled with pride. And then she got that dreamy look in her eyes. She looked at her harp like she'd never seen it before. Minutes ticked by mercilessly. Finally, I managed to get her book to her and she sat down and played her song.

Afterward, I tried to console. "Avonlea, you know Daddy and I are proud of you no matter how badly you mess up."
Again, the wonder in the brown eyes, "Of course you are! It doesn't matter at all."
Again, she leaves me speechless, barely breathing. She gets it. She gets it better than I do, if truth be told. Her performance on the harp matters not one iota, her worth is in Christ, nothing can change that.

So she turns 13 and we go to the beach. My friend Natalie and I whisk our daughters away for a weekend of shopping and praying and tea and walking. Avonlea is into birds big time right now and identifies pretty much everything, whether it's really flying, or merely painted on china. So as we head down to the beach she grabs food to feed the seagulls. She stands alone (none of us wanted to get pooped on) with a piece of cracker in her upraised hand.

And as I stood there I thought; this is her life picture. Pointing upward, doing it her way, in her timing. Not caring whether she's alone or surrounded by people, eyes fixed heavenwards, patiently.

My words fall short when I try to describe how God has used this dreamy child in my rushed life.
I am so thankful for my daughter.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Love Lets Go

Her bottom rests on the white tiles of the kitchen counter and her legs wrap round my middle.
She grapples with the weight of turning six.
"But I'm still going to live at home, right?"
"Oh yes, you'll stay with mommy for a long time."
"I'll stay with you forever."
As sweet as that sounds, I know it's not true and I correct it lightly, laughingly, "Oh no Rosy, you're too cute. Some day a man will come and ask your daddy if you can marry him."
Her concerned face relaxes, "Oh that's okay, Daddy will say no. He loves me too much to let me go."

For just a moment in that kitchen, time froze.
Her immature logic reasoned that love holds tight, love doesn't let go. But time has taught me other wise. For years my mental picture of love has been of uplifted hands, open, holding back up to God the blessings He has so lovingly given to me.
You give and take away. Blessed be Your Name.
And I know myself well enough to know the constant temptation of rolling the fingers oh-so-slowly palm-ward. The temptation to grasp. The temptation to lower the arm and pull the hand into my chest and utter that ugliest of four letter words; mine.
My heart will choose to say. Lord blessed be Your Name.
But I have also felt the consequences of those actions, of that word. And I've experienced the blessings of letting go, loving and letting go anyway. I choose the blessing.

So do many of you.
I think of my friend, who loves her God so much that she allows her three children, ages 11,13, and 15 to go to Africa and Russia this summer to serve Him.
I think of my friend who loves her God so much that she's willing to follow God's leading to a pastorate for her husband in North Dakota, transplanting her five children and starting a new life.
They choose to live the love that lets go.

The kitchen clock resumes ticking.
"Rosy, when the time comes we will send you off with joy. But right now, you're still my baby, and I'm so thankful for you."
I pull her close, try to etch into memory the green eyes, the missing teeth, the blond bangs constantly in her way. Her smell of shampoo and earth and candy.
Because she's six, and I'll never live this day with her again.
Because I love her enough to let her go.

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Dappled Octopus With Lips But No Teeth

I walked a path through the woods last week and the sunlight filtered down, colander-like through the leaves. I thought about how whenever I hear the word "dappled" I think of a path just like that. Even if the word is used in a totally different context, I just juxtapose my image over the context to create a new picture.

I think it's fairly common to associate words with certain pictures. When I told a couple of friends that Grant's teacher was "supple" (I meant subtle) I could tell by their faces that they had a definite word picture for that word and it was clashing with the word "teacher".

So it really shouldn't have come as a shock when I discovered that Rose has her own word pictures for life. We were left alone for long hours when Dave took the older kids skiing last Wednesday. We sat out on lawn chairs and looked at the mountain and talked of "shoes and ships and sealing wax; cabbages and kings."

Finally she said, "I used to be on the Debil's team, but I'm on God's team now."
I inhaled, ready to instruct along the lines of, "all have sinned and fall short..."
But she interrupted, "I think Rowan and some of my friends are still on the Debil's team though."
"You know Rosy..."
"Yeah, the Debil used to be a beautiful Angel," (that wasn't what I was going to say). "But now he's an octopus."
"He's an octopus?" I was sincerely wishing I was on a ski slope right about then.
"Yeah a blue octopus. That's how I picture him."
Oh. How she pictures him. I get it.

So I now have a new word picture and it's both supple and subtle

Grant also has word pictures apparently. He came in to our room to tell us good morning on Saturday. I got a big kiss and some sweet words and then he started to walk out.
Dave, feeling slighted, said, "Grant don't you love me?"
Grant replied, "Of course I do, you make the money."
Dave, "So you just see dollar signs when you look at me!"
Grant, "Yep, and when I look at Mommy I see lips and love!"

This my friends, is good to know. It's a relief to know he doesn't think of me as a blue octopus or something equally disturbing.

In other random news that has nothing to do with word pictures, I have a pile of teeth on my dresser.
Rowan lost one, two days later on Easter morning Grant lost 2, and the next day Rose lost her other front tooth. The kids look like I've been knocking them around and the tooth fairy is officially stressed out. (The phrase "pile of teeth" and "stressed out tooth fairy" actually do elicit fairly poignant word pictures after all).

Anyway, here are some pictures that don't need words.

With teeth.

One gone.

Both top teeth gone..........


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