Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Love Story

Almost eleven years ago, when I was a newly minted mother, I enjoyed a treasured moment that has remained with me to this day.  I was awakened in the night by a hungry baby’s cry.  I shuffled to the nursery in my bathrobe and slippers with bleary eyes and messy hair—a distinctly unromantic figure.  I mechanically lifted baby Juliet from her crib and nursed her in a rocker beside the window.  When she had had her fill, she relaxed in my arms, dozey and happy.  She had the sweetest face (still does!) with delicate features and tiny rosebud mouth.  She was almost bald except for a growth of soft, pale fuzz with a swirl of reddish blond hair at the crown.  Even though I was exhausted and shabby, I was aware of the romantic aspect of that moment—a young mother cuddling her drowsy baby who was dressed in footy pajamas, moonlight streaming through the window.  As I looked down on Juliet, I was flooded with love for her.  It is difficult to describe the intensity of that love.  It was overwhelming.  I adored this child.  Suddenly, I was astonished by a new thought.  “Oh my word!  This is how my mother loves me!”  I had known my parents love me, but it hadn’t occurred to me that anyone loved me that much, that powerfully. I am deeply loved.

Then my thoughts took another turn.  God loves me even more than that.  Wow.

I have heard other parents say that you can’t really understand the love of God until you have a child.  This assertion is not supported by scripture.  For one thing, it devalues those who do not have children, suggesting somehow that their walks with God will always be inadequate. In fact, none of us has any ability to measure the work of the Holy Spirit in fellow believers.  Moreover, our God can reveal himself in any way he likes—whether by making us parents or by some other means. 

In truth, the love of God will always be in some way unknowable.  Consider the Apostle Paul’s prayer for the church at Ephesus: 

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19. (New International Version)

We keep learning about God’s love.  We keep plumbing the depths.  We keep searching the heights.  God, in his time and in his wisdom, increases our knowledge with each new experience of his love.  He gave me a glimpse of its breadth and length in the moonlight that night.  I return to that memory from time to time, and I am flooded with gratitude.

I pray that you, my dear friends and readers, would know (at least in part) how deeply you are loved by God.  You are his very precious child.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Children Make No Sense

My children are mysteries to me.  Here is a sampling of the conundrums that confront me daily:
  • Why aren’t their shoes together?  One upstairs, one downstairs—why?  How does this happen?
  • What’s the big objection to sleep?  I confess, I do remember crying at bedtime as a child, but now it’s my favorite part of the day.
  • When I speak, what do they hear?  Is it like that Far Side cartoon describing what dogs hear: “blah, blah, blah, blah, Ginger, blah, blah, blah.”
  • How much ketchup do they need?  Really. 
  • How can a person not like artichoke hearts?
  • I admit, flatulence can be amusing in the right moment, but children do not distinguish the right moment from the wrong one.  And I’m raising girls!  
Am I alone?  What riddles do your little darlings offer you?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


I have been thinking a lot lately about sacrifice—specifically the sacrifices that parents make for their children.  When my mother was a child, her family was very poor.  She and her siblings have told me stories about their level of poverty and about the sacrifices that my grandparents made as they worked toward providing a good life for their children.  I think, for example, of my grandparents’ commitment to the study of music.  My mother took piano and cello lessons as a child.  Grandmother, who was busy enough already, bartered services for those lessons.  While my mother sat at the piano with her teacher, Grandmother would clean the teacher’s house.  She would then go to her own home to clean house, sew clothes for four children, tend the garden, prepare meals, shell almonds for the Blue Diamond company, and all the other things Depression Era families would do to survive.  Only my mother’s sister became a serious musician, but I am confident that music study has enriched life for my mother and my uncles.  They understand music and appreciate it, and although they do not play instruments today, music is still a part of their lives in some way.
               My husband and I are trying to figure out how we will pay for all the lessons our children want to take.  Of course, we cannot and should not sign them up for every fascinating activity, but we very much desire to give them more than our budget allows.  As I reflect on the sacrifices my parents and grandparents made for their children, I wonder what I need to give up my daughters’ sake. 
               What is going to change for us?  Probably not much.  The truth is I’m not made of the same mettle as my grandmother.  I think it’s a sacrifice to trim my own bangs so that I can pay for my girls’ haircuts in a salon.  I am glad to have had the example of my foremothers, though.  They help me gain perspective in the midst of my complaining. 

               Paul and I will find our way.  In some cases, the sacrifice will involve saying “no” to our daughters when we would prefer to say “yes.” In other cases, we will say “no” to ourselves.  Like most parents before us, we know that our investments in our children will mature into rewards—not rewards for ourselves, necessarily—rewards for our girls and, one hopes, for our grandchildren.