Monday, March 2, 2015

When You Don't Feel Like Waiting Anymore

We are standing at the edge of where water meets a slice of sandy beach, watching shadows of the sun sink closer and closer to the tips of palm trees and the blues of ocean behind thick clouds.

While the sun lingers all day long in the sky, and most of the time I barely realize it's moving, I am keenly aware of it's movement when it steadily retreats into the horizon. And tonight I am asking God for something beautiful to spread out before us despite the heavy clouds hanging in the sky. I'm briefly tempted to abandon the beach and just head home because it's unlikely that we'll catch much of a sunset with all the clouds covering the sky and it's even more unlikely that we'll get a glimpse of the dolphins I've been hoping to see. I've loved dolphins since we first started visiting my grandparents in Southwest Florida, and God has spoken love to me through them. I promise our soon-to-be-adopted teen daughter, who shares my love for these animals, I will report any sightings.

I lean into John just before we are ready to resign from the beach, and instead I find myself breathing a timid prayer.

"God, something beautiful please."

The sun almost immediately slips out from behind the clouds and spreads into red, pink, orange with hints of purple.

Moved by the lovely in front of us and the graciousness of a God who answers prayers, I ask, "Oh, and dolphins, too, please!"

I can't stop the prayers from tumbling out of my lips as the sun descends and continues to set the sky bright acolor.

"Thank you for this beauty, God." I say, "Thank you for the lovely you paint across the sky. Lord, you make beautiful things. God, please, bring our girls home to us. Bring us word of movement, our referral. Please."

Where I end John begins and we are praying honest heart cries as the sunset blazes in beauty before us.

As we continue to pray, I see movement in water before us, and not one, not two, not three, but five fins take turns jutting out of the water. It looks like maybe it's feeding time and the dolphins have found a buffet just several yards away.

I breathe out gratitude and we watch them dance in the waters as the last of the sun disappears, leaving a glow in the twilight of sky and on the water.

I find myself thankful for the burst of patience and persistence gifted to us as we stood on the beach just moments before. And I am reminded of words I read earlier that day in two different places:
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! Isaiah 30:18
When I wait you strengthen my heart. Psalm 27:14 
We have not been forgotten in our waiting. Our tears, our prayers, our pleas -- they have been heard.

Strength has been gifted in the wait. Blessing will grow in the wait. Beauty has come and will spread into more

like colors at sunset across the sky

like dolphins remembered in their need for a nightly feast

like prayers answered as two pilgrims in the journey stand at the edge of where water meets a slice of sandy beach, watching shadows of the sun emerge from behind thick clouds

and sink closer and closer to the tips of palm trees and the blues of ocean setting the whole beautiful thing on fire with color.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The One Thing I've Never Regretted in Parenting

When our boys were really young, well meaning friends and family liberally gave me advice on best parenting practices and sprinkled it with dustings of, "oh, it goes by so fast."

Most young moms I've known realize this is true, but are also sorta kinda vying for it to go as fast as others say it does so they can just simply take a shower or use the bathroom without an entourage.

And most of us young moms who aren't moms to really little people any longer realize with every passing year that, yeah, it just gets truer and truer. Time really does march on and the beat to which it marches only seems to quicken with every passing year.

This morning, my youngest son, who is five, was talking about next year when he goes to school every day and something about the way he said "every day" so casually made me pause and realize that those years of little are quickly coming to a close for him. He hurried me out of the car and out of my thoughts just moments later. As I walked him into his preschool class, my sweet little guy told me he loved me, gave me a hug and then was off and running.

After drop off, I sat in my empty car and stared into the blue winter sky simply thinking, when a song, I lived by One Republic, came across my speakers, and it made me pause long and wonder if I've really lived these days of little or if I merely just survived.

If I'm answering honestly, I'll admit that I really have just survived many days. Other days, I've lived and lived well, engaging in the moments, laughing and crying all within the same breath. I have my regrets. I have my doubts. I have my wishes for do overs.

But there's one thing I can honestly say I don't regret, one thing I did almost every day -- the survival and the thriving days alike -- that bring me tears of joy and thankfulness: I held these boys of mine.

I held them for hours and hours as small babies, nestled happily in my tired arms. I held them when they slept, and I held them when I was almost ready to pee my pants and my butt was asleep and I feared it might never wake again.

I carried their heavy toddler bodies when they insisted on being snuggled against me instead of walking. And I cuddled them when they didn't want to play solo.

I slept next to ninja-like preschoolers whose little bodies took up more than half of the king sized bed but who voiced the need for snuggles.

I held them. I held them close, and I held them long, and I held them often.

Despite the borage of noise that suggested maybe I should do less of it, I held them because my heart heard something loud and clear one day when my oldest son was a tiny little thing with a big old set of lungs who let us know his displeasure whenever I set him down.

As I sobbed, feeling trapped beneath a tiny tyrant while the housework piled higher and higher and higher, she whispered kindly, lovingly to me that there would always be dishes, always be messes and always be laundry. While it might look different at different times and stages of the game, the messes always would remain a constant in life.

But this boy wouldn't always be a baby, he wouldn't always be little thing who could fit snuggled in the space on my lap and be easily soothed by my mere presence alone.

I'm glad now that I didn't spend nearly as much time holding clean plates as I did holding these boys of mine when they were babies. I'm glad now that I let my toddlers have the place on my hip more often than the laundry baskets.

Yes, absolutely, some days it was a struggle to see beyond the mess and choose to hold my boys for just a bit longer. And some days I did less holding and more cleaning. And some days I did hours of holding only to football-pass a little body into my husband's arms and run out the door as soon as he arrived home from work.

But she was right, and I'm glad she told me.

Because the messes, yes, they remain. However those babies are now boys with long, lanky legs running and jumping, bodies spanning three fourths of my own body that pause only momentarily throughout the day to press quickly into me for a hug or kiss but are most often off and running to the next thing.

And when they're off and running, sometimes there's a little ache in the empty of my arms ... but mostly I feel thankful.  Because now I'm just holding them differently much of the day.

I'm holding them in my heart.