Tick Tock

Tick Tock

Time is so…interesting. Sometimes I wonder why a God who is outside of the confines of time (at least time as we know it) put this ticking clock in our lives. I wonder, did He give us 24 hour days because that’s really all we can handle at a time before needing to shut down completely and rest a while? Did He give us years that reset through the same 12 months over and over again as a way for us to remember and celebrate significant moments that happen throughout our lives? Like how we’ll always remember 9/11 every time 9/11 comes around each year or how we’ll always remember Christmas and the birth of Christ when December comes around. And did He give us a “new year” every year to give us a new chance at a new beginning because sometimes just feeling like we have a new beginning gets us up on the right foot and is just what we need to keep going? And maybe that’s even why we have a new day every day because every day can be that chance at a new beginning to do things differently and maybe to do things better than the day before.

Whatever the case, whatever God’s reasoning, we all live with this ticking clock that our lives have to be organized around.

When I was younger, time seemed to move slow as molasses. I remember being the restless little girl that I was, constantly staring up at the clock waiting for the next fun thing to do. On long, quiet Saturday afternoons, I remember my restless self laying upside down and hanging over the ledge of our black leather couch staring up at our cuckoo clock for what felt like hours while harassing my poor mother every 10 seconds about when it was time to go play with so-and-so. In school, the time would go by even slower as I spent the mornings eagerly waiting for recess and the afternoons painfully waiting for school to be let out, especially on Fridays when I knew I had horse-back-riding lesson after school.

Now, I suddenly have three kids of my own and the oldest is constantly asking me when we can do this and when we can do that, to which my answer is almost always, “Soon, Micah. When it is time.” To him, that means very little because he is four and he can’t conceptualize time yet, but he usually ends up finally walking away, still uncertain of when, but reassured that it is in fact coming and coming “soon” as I promised.

And this Easter weekend, as our family reflected on the stories of the crucifixion and of the resurrection in their colorful children’s Bible, my thoughts turned to the great Messiah who is risen and seated at the right hand of the Father and I reminded the kids that Jesus is coming again soon.

“Soon? How soon, umma? When is soon?”

While I do not even know for myself the answer to that question and when exactly that will be, I just know that God also promises “soon,” and just as a child believes his mother, I believe my Father. And for this day I live my life to wait for.

And then when it is time, time for Jesus to return, it’ll be the end. But not really the end because it’ll actually be a new beginning….but a beginning that has no end. ..

So interesting.

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Mess Ups

Mess Ups

In an effort to finally fix my daughter’s attempt at cutting her own hair the month before, I got out my scissors the other night to take a stab at it myself. Although I have cut hair many times in the past before for literally everyone in my household including my son, husband, mother-in-law, father-in-law, and brother-in-law (yes, I live with all of them), cutting the delicate wispy bangs of a squirmy two year old girl proved to be much harder than I thought.

Still, I tried. And after bribing her with a dozen gummy treats, nicking her slightly on the forehead twice (only enough to turn red, but not bleed..), and reassuring her over and over again that I was making her beautiful like a princess, I got in maybe a total of about ten little snips, and even that was more than she could handle. On the verge of a tantrum, I finally let her climb down the stool, but before she could run away, I tried to get in a few more snips to even it out. Then before I knew it, I had cut so high that her new bangs were now just barely covering her hairline and totally uneven.

Shoot. What have I done. My face must have shown that something was wrong because she suddenly paused and stared into my eyes, searching for what was the matter. Then, when she finally asked, “what umma? what??” …in her sweet, innocent, naive voice, I felt like I needed to apologize profusely and beg her for forgiveness for doing what I swore to myself that I would never do …give her those horrendous, infamous, awkward looking bangs that I’ve seen so many other mothers inflict upon their young daughters.

But I couldn’t break it to her and tell her that her hair looked like a disaster. So, I quickly gave her the biggest smile I could find and with bubbling excitement yelled, “…you look like a beautiful princess!” Lucky for me, she is still at an age where she believes everything I tell her, so she totally bought it. Her eyes lit up with wonder and smiling from ear to ear with dimples all over her face, she screamed, “Yay! Princess!!!!” She then wrapped her short, pudgy arms tightly around my neck and even proceeded to thank me. Poor child…I deserved no such hug.

This kind of thing happens to me all the time. I make some huge mistake, fail miserably at some task, or walk away feeling like I totally blew it, but when I turn around to see the damage done, I unexpectedly find grace instead. It is like landing the job after a disastrous interview, bowling a strike after the bowling ball slips awkwardly our of your hand, getting an A when you guessed at every single question on the exam, or being able to mend a broken relationship years later when you thought it could never be restored. You expect to get what you deserve, but instead, you get what you don’t and that is grace. From the little things like a child forgiving you for the worst haircut of her life to the bigger things like Jesus dying on the cross for my sins, I have experienced so much grace and experienced it enough times to be able to say there is grace in literally EVERYTHING. And I can honestly say I have no regrets or disappointments in my life because I have seen that if not right away, than in time, all things are not only forgivable, but they are able to be redeemed and even made beautiful in His time.

Since the hair mishap, it has taken a lot of self control not to cringe a little every time I look down at my daughter’s bangs. However, she on the other hand, continues to flash that same smile of delight every time she passes a mirror, and I know she is thinking to herself, “beautiful princess.” And I can’t help but to also smile myself, and thank God for grace because who can deny the beauty that is still all over that precious little face.

 

 

He Didn’t Look Back

He Didn’t Look Back

Today was the first warm day in months and the first time we were all able to step outside with just t-shirts on in forever. This winter I had hibernated more than usual because I had given birth to our third child, Moses, and even glancing out the window had made my bones shudder. Now, finally being able to step outside without putting on a dozen layers and actually being able to breathe in the sweet smell of spring was absolutely refreshing.

At first, we played around in our front yard with every single toy on our porch that had been neglected through the long winter, but before long, my son, Micah, asked if we could go to Page Elementary School. It’s a standard question he asks almost every other day. We don’t have a playground in our neighborhood, so Page is usually where we go if we want to play on one, but that wasn’t the main reason we were going there. Micah is my extrovert and although he did not say it, I knew he wanted to go because there are always new kids to play with there.

So we all piled into our minivan, and a quick two minutes later, we pulled into the school parking lot. It was only a little past 5 p.m., but the sun was already beginning to set behind the big playground that Micah was eagerly walking towards. Kindle, my 2-year-old, likes to take her time and was slowly taking steps to make her way over too, but of course it had to be in between picking at grass, singing made-up songs, and telling me “look mommy!” at every single thing that fascinated her. I love this about Kindle.

As I followed close to Kindle and pushed Moses along in the stroller, I kept my gaze on Micah who was now an entire field away from me and still walking steadily along to the playground. At first, no one else was in sight, but before he could even set foot onto the mulch, a huge group of bigger kids came out of nowhere and stampeded across the black top, filling the playground within a matter of seconds.

And for a moment, I could not see little 4-year-old Micah in the crowd of kids overshadowing him. Being my oldest child, I always saw him as a big, independent, self-sufficient boy, and I hardly ever worry about him. But size is so relative and suddenly he shrank into the likeness of a tiny, helpless baby, and all my protective motherly instincts came screaming out like an ambulance, police, and fire truck siren all in one.

Were those good kids or bad kids? How were they raised? Did they learn not to use cuss words and more importantly, that hands are for hugging and not for hitting? What were they saying to him? Would they accept him? Would they let him play with them like I knew he desperately wanted to? Please, for his sake, someone play with him, and dear God, let it be someone nice.

All these thoughts and more whirled through my mind, and then I remembered that they were actually a continuation of the same string of anxieties I had been having all week long. You see, Micah turns 5 this year which means it is time for kindergarten. Kindergarten? Really???  Wasn’t he just born the other day??

Yes, that’s right. Kindergarten. Feels more like I’m sending him off to college, if you ask me. And not only that, but you’d be surprised with how much more comes with raising a little 4-year-old child. Everyday, Micah starts countless conversations on topics I am unprepared to talk to him about–why there are orphans in the world, how airplanes fly and big boats float, and why we can’t bring home the homeless man down the road. He has already grown faster than I can keep up with, and while I never imagined that raising a child could be any harder than when they are infants, I am finding that older kids require much more complex parenting skills that frankly, I am not sure I have.

And for a moment this weekend, I panicked. Really, really panicked, causing me to beg the question, “how do I do this???” I thought about how God entrusted these children into my hands and how I was supposed to make all these decisions that will shape and prepare them to make it in the world as Spirit-filled, well-adjusted, kind, hardworking, loving, responsible people. What school should they attend? What friends can they play with? I can’t even make it past whether or not I should allow video games and certain television shows, God-forbid they see something that will give them nightmares.

And now here I was, seeing it play out right before my eyes. Micah in the real world and he didn’t even look back.

And you know what? He looked ok. More than ok, actually. In fact, before I knew it, Micah was on the field throwing the football he had brought from home, back and forth with several of the older boys. This should not have surprised me. He has always had a gift of making friends quickly and I have seen it time and time again where we enter some unknown territory, and having more boldness than I ever had, he moves in without hesitation, never shrinking back. It’s how God make him. But a mother still worries and that I did–for the last several days, that’s all I did. Yet now, for the first time in days, this moment brought a huge wave of peace, and I felt the Lord speak to me tenderly.

He’s going to be ok. Entrust him back to me.

Although in my physical care, I had to remember that Micah belonged to God first and foremost, and God was reassuring me He would take care of him. He reminded me of the time I got into an argument with my mother back when Micah was a wee 5-month-old baby and not sleeping well. We were going at it about the best way to put him to sleep–on his front, on his back, with two layers or one, etc. Then in the heat of the moment, I took Micah into my arms and with great entitlement, asserted that “this is my son.” It was then only half a second later that I heard the Lord say the very same words to me.

“This is my son.”

I was so humbled that day and honestly relieved to realize this simple truth. Micah was God’s son, and indeed the same is still true today. Micah is God’s child and although he may not always be safe from hurt or harm nor will he always look back to me, that is ok, and I hope and pray for the day he learns to look to God and God alone, just as I am learning to do so myself.