Connor and The Girls

“Mom, would you spread the blanket over me and my girls?”

So said Connor on a night last week when he called me – yet again – to his room. I’ll admit – I was annoyed when his cries of “Mom? Mom? Mom?” started up again when I was already downstairs.

“It’s almost 10:00 PM, child,” I thought to myself, exasperated. “Just to go to sleep!”

Outwardly, I called up the stairs, “I’m down here, Connor. What do you need?”

“I want you to come to my room,” he pleaded.

Slowly, I climbed the stairs. (A three-level townhouse is a challenge for this increasingly pregnant body.) In his room, I found his two "girls" – two Polly Pocket wannabes we got in a Happy Meal last year – carefully placed on his pillow. Beside them was the bejeweled magic wand Natalie had given him an hour earlier
you know, when it was bedtime “to make him happy, Mom.”

And that’s when he asked: “Mom, would you spread the blanket over me and my girls? They are being cuddly.”

What can a Mom do with that but smile and oblige?

“Thanks Mom.” He smiled at me with angelic eyes. “That’s perfect!”

And thus, my insides turned into a Lava Lamp. And I smiled back. “I’m so glad buddy.”

Of course, in 15 years, if he asks me to spread a blanket over him and his girls, there will be a different ending to this story. But for now, we'll leave it what it is:
Three-year-old boys who are in love with their mommies are some of the sweetest creatures God ever made.



Both Connor and I struggled with them last night. Not the “bad-dream” variety. More the “stomach-turning terror” type, the kind of nightmare where real-life fear tortures you into an agonizing cycle of suspense, anxiety and dread.

Connor said he was afraid of the shadows. Hard to argue with that one. He knows they aren’t a threat, yet they do look spooky and sometimes menacing in the wee hours.

And me? I was afraid of losing the ones I love. My husband left on a business trip this morning that will keep him Out West for the entire week. With the anniversary of September 11 right around the corner, I couldn’t help but think about what I would do if something happened to him. How would my heart manage to recover from that devastation? How would I raise two children who would forever miss their daddy – and one who wouldn’t even know him? Or what if something happened to one of the kids? My very soul would be torn out.

I reasoned with the fear. “The chances of Corey’s plane falling from the sky are ridiculously small. As far as the risk of losing loved ones goes, this week is no different than any other. We live on a thin rope every day. An accident, a disease, a fatal turn of events could happen anywhere at anytime. So why are you so worried now all of a sudden?”

Of course, while that logic is true, it didn’t do much to help me get back to sleep.

So I prayed. “Lord, I know You. Your grace falls each day in perfect measure. We have been though the dark valleys before – and I beheld Your majesty in ways I couldn’t have imagined before. I acknowledge that every day is a gift from You. Each moment is too priceless for words. I don’t want to be glib with this treasure. Nor do I want to cling too tight, for I trust Your heart with my future.”

But in the end, the thing that helped me the most was the same thing that helped Connor get back to sleep – I just needed to be held by the One bigger and stronger than me. Just feel His love and His tenderness and hear His voice telling me, “Shhhh. Don’t be scared. I’m here.”

I’ve always loved the Fernando Ortega song, “Jesus King of Angels.” I call it a lullaby for adults.
Jesus, King of angels, heaven's light,
Shine Your face upon this house tonight.
Let no evil come into my dreams;
Light of heaven, keep me in Your peace.

Remind me how You made dark spirits flee,
And spoke Your power to the raging sea.
And spoke Your mercy to a sinful man;
Remind me, Jesus, this is what I am.

The universe is vast beyond the stars,
But You are mindful when the sparrow falls,
And mindful of the anxious thoughts
That find me, surround me, and bind me.

With all my heart I love You, Sovereign Lord.
Tomorrow, let me love You even more.
And rise to speak the goodness of Your name
Until I close my eyes and sleep again.

Jesus, King of angels, heaven's light,
Hold my hand and keep me through this night.
While my soul still bears the marks of the nightmares, I’m so thankful my God is bigger than my fears.

As David wrote, let me the “the poet who sings your glory – and live what I sing every day” (Psalm 61:8, MSG).

Sunday Humor

Maybe it's because I worked in student ministries for years. Maybe it's because I used to work in the field of video production. Or maybe it's because I'm just plain weird. But this video (found today at Evangelical Outpost via The Thinklings) made me laugh so hard I cried.

Happy Sunday.

What I Did During My Blogging Break (Updated Below)

I grew a human being.
Cathy by Cathy Guisewite
©2007 Cathy Guisewite

I'm now almost 21 weeks pregnant -- which means I've passed the halfway point.

And today you get an update, because I HAVE MY ULTRASOUND THIS AFTERNOON.

Sorry; I didn't mean to shout. It's just that I'M A TAD EXCITED! Because I'm one of those people who need to know the gender of the baby. NEED. I can't bond with the baby without knowing if it's a boy or girl -- Cousin "It" just doesn't have the same warm-and-fuzzy appeal. And since my mind refuses to accept the Green Team option, it will subconsciously assign a sex to the unborn infant, whether it's correct or not.

I experienced this phenomenon during my second pregnancy. Outwardly, I told people I didn't care if we were having a boy or a girl -- because we already had one girl I totally enjoyed, and if it was a boy, we'd have one of each. So no pressure! Either way, it's good. And I truly believed that.

But in hindsight, I can see how my subconscious took over by week 14 and sneakily convinced my mind and heart that I was pregnant with a girl. "This pregnancy is identical to the one you had earlier." "You'd be such a great Mom to two girls." "Natalie is going to love having a baby sister."

So when my OB cheerily announced at our week 18 ultrasound, "It's a boy! Just look at that, Mom and Dad!" my heart unexpectedly sank all the way to my toes. It took me about a week to stop waking up in the middle of the night and thinking to myself that the boy "diagnosis" was just a horrible, crazy nightmare. I cried for about three days. I was disappointed in myself, but I cried anyway. Because as I've come to see it, I was mourning the girl that wasn't, and that on many levels, I didn't even know I wanted.

So that brings us to today. Outwardly, I can say again -- it matters not to me if we'll have a baby boy or a baby girl come January. Because we have one of each right now, and I love both. Both sexes have their unique joys and trials. Either way, it's good.

But internally (come closer; I need to whisper here), I think I'm hoping it's a girl. Much of this has to do with the fact that my daughter -- who is currently surrounded by boys in most aspects of her life -- really, really wants a baby sister. It also has to do with the fact that my husband announced on the day I took a positive test back in May that we were pregnant with a girl. (And this isn't a guess, mind you. Not as he puts it anyway. He has more assurance that the prophet Elijah over this. And truthfully, he's been right nine out of the last nine times he's made a prediction.)

So. Today, I'll finally get answers. I can stop wondering. I can start planning. I can start bonding and getting excited about the little bumps and kicks I feel every time I sit still for a few moments. (Which is often, let me tell you.) Today. Today. Today.

Yahoo! I can't wait to see this little one God is growing inside of me. Check back later this weekend for an update.

Update: IT'S A GIRL! How crazy is that?!? My husband's track record stands -- and we have one excited six-year-old daughter. More to come later, I'm sure.

Rants and Raves

I begin today with an "I-just-need-to-get-this-off-my-chest" moment.

What the heck is going on in the Southern part of these United States that is forcing schools to start classes in mid or even early August?!?

During my blogging break, I stopped writing. (At least publicly.) I did not stop reading. And I was shocked -- shocked -- at the number of people sending their kids back to school the second week in August.

Up here in the Northland, we have an actual-to-goodness state law that forbids school from starting until the day after Labor Day -- which is the day God designated for kids to return to school. It's the way things should be. Memorial Day is the beginning of summer, Labor Day is the end of summer. End of discussion.

So maybe someone could enlighten me as to how this makes sense? Especially when it appears to be most prominent in the states where August is most miserable, and most of the schools don't have air conditioning? (And yes, I'm aware of all the testing and standards required by schools these days, and truly, I feel for the teachers. But maybe they should eliminate a mid-winter break or two and let kids actually enjoy the twilight days of summer?)

For cryin' out loud, people. I can't wrap my mind around this one. I think if I lived in The South, I would boycott this particular mandate. (In much the same way I boycotted the stupid -- yes, there's the family word -- red left-hand arrow lights at empty intersections in San Jose. By the end of our two years in that insanely trafficked city, I actually started willfully running red left-hand arrows when no one was coming the other way. Which is why it's a good thing we left the Bay Area. I never had road rage until I moved there -- and I haven't had it since.)

And now, a few paragraphs of blood-pressure-reducing bliss: Can we talk peaches for a few minutes? Specifically, mid-August juicy peaches straight from the western side of Colorado?

Holy luscious cow, Batman. They are that good.

For the past three years, I've been able to obtain these amazing, fuzzy orbs of perfection from our (formerly local) Youth for Christ ministry. They bring them back from a Colorado adventure trip each year and sell them by the box to raise funds for the coming year.

The first year, I bought one box (approximately 20 pounds) and brought it home. I washed a baseball-sized peach and had it for lunch -- and before the juice on my chin was dry, I was on the phone with YFC to ask if they had any extra boxes. They did. I bought two more. Immediately. And thus began the annual Eating of the Peaches Festival in the Love Well household.

How good are these peaches? So good that I don't offer them to my children. And if they ask to try one, I tell them they won't like it. So good that I spend a week making peach jam and peach pie filling, and I never once tire of the smell of peaches and sugar in the air. So good that my husband is bitter with me for months when I take one of his fresh peaches and turn it into pie. (He's not a desert eater, and he'd rather have them raw.)

This year? The peaches were supposed to come in the week before we moved. I literally arranged my calendar around the Blessed Arrival of the Peaches, planning to spend my last fives days in our home beside the lake doing nothing but dealing with the peaches.

And then -- disaster. The peaches came a week late, when I was knee-deep in packing paper and had moving tape stuck in my hair. (Side note, but who invented that tape?!? It kept folding in on itself, even though I had an official dispenser, and it refused to be coaxed back into the real world by my fingernails. Maybe we should send some boxes of that to Iraq and Afghanistan.)

I dutifully picked up our three boxes (read: 60 pounds) of peaches from Youth for Christ and hoped they'd make it through the move without constant refrigeration. (And yes, I know you aren't supposed to put peaches in the fridge. But if you leave 60 pounds of peaches sitting out for more than three days, you too will live through The Great Fruit Fly Plague, as we did in 2004. I seriously tried channeling Moses and Aaron to help me rid my house of the evil insects.)

I hoped to get to the peaches as soon as our clothes were out of the boxes. I even gave away the remaining jars of peach jam I had from last year to clear cupboard space for the bountiful harvest I would soon produce.

And then -- another disaster. Turns out, my husband and I can go through a lot of Colorado peaches in two weeks. We now have only ONE BOX of peaches remaining in our extra fridge -- and my husband has threatened my very life (and I'm pregnant with his offspring, let me remind you) if I even think about taking "his" peaches and turning them into some peach abberation. (His term, not mine.)

Does anyone know if there's a black market out there for Colorado peaches? Because I'm desperate. I have no peach jam in the pantry for my toast, no peach pie filling waiting to be the very promise of summer on a cold winter night. ARGH! What am I going to do?!?

I'm Back

Yes, I’m back*.

At least, I think I’m back.

I leave the large asterisk because it’s been good – oh so good – to not be blogging these past few weeks. I’ve enjoyed the space. I’ve written in my journal, I’ve done some Deep Thinking, I took my kids to the beach. (I also packed and moved and sorted and sold. But that’s a post for another day.)

When I look back over the last few years of my life, I see God consistently teaching me about the need for quiet if I'm serious about knowing Him. And I don’t necessarily mean outer quiet. When I lived in San Diego – a big, busy city – and worked as a TV news producer – a hectic, adrenaline-fueled job – I used to blame my spiritual inadequacy on the lack of quiet in my daily, external life. “It’s just so crazy here in Southern California, Lord,” I would write in my journal. “There are people everywhere, schedules are insane. I can’t be quiet here. I need some time by a lake, where the pace is slow and I can hear the leaves dance in the breeze. I need a job that doesn’t fry me crispy. I need Minnesota. Then I will be disciplined and go deep and know You.”

And then – be careful what you wish for – God gave me Minnesota. Specifically, He situated me in a small town, where life moved at a glacial pace, in a beautiful home next to a lake.

Ha-ha, God. Ha-ha.

To my horror, I discovered my soul was just as noisy in Minnesota as it was in California. I had the space and the time and the external beauty – but I had just as much mind-litter as I had before, if not more.

That prompted an interesting discussion between me and God. And so I stumbled upon the twin spiritual disciplines of silence and restraint.

I wrote this in my journal August 2006.
If I had to sum up what God is teaching me right now, it would be the disciplines of withdrawal – secrecy, silence and simplicity.

It began back in April, when I fasted from sugar while [my husband] was in Indonesia. I got a taste (no pun intended) of the power inherent in refraining. It continued when I felt God telling me to stay quiet, for a time, about what he was revealing to me about our future. And it is carrying on now, as I’m studying Chuck Swindoll’s book “So, You Want to Be Like Christ?”

This much I've learned: It’s incredibly hard for me to be quiet. Not only do I find it difficult to control my tongue, I find it almost impossible to be still – outwardly or inwardly. I am always, always on the go.

And this is not a good thing. It’s never been a good thing, but as I look upon our life now and our future – how we may be on the verge of entering a busier sphere – it scares me.

Bottom line: If I can’t be quiet [in the small town where we lived], where can I be quiet?
This learning-to-be-still thing – it’s still a process for me. Which is why I’m both excited and anxious to return to my blog. It’s why I leave the asterisk. Because I’ve vowed to God – and to my husband, who watches this part of my life like a hawk – that I will not let this blog take over. If it starts to weigh too heavily on my mental and spiritual scales again, I’ll walk away. Permanently. It wouldn’t be easy. But I want to taste and see that God is good during this lifetime, and see Him write His story on the hearts of my children. If I miss that – even though I have a multitude of witty or informational or insightful blog posts to my name – I’ve missed everything.

In “The Pursuit of Man,” A.W. Tozer wrote, “May not the inadequacy of much of our spiritual experience be traced back to our habit of skipping through the corridors of the Kingdom like children in the market place, chattering about everything, but pausing to learn the value of nothing? ... God has not bowed to our nervous haste nor embraced the methods of our machine age. It is well that we accept the hard truth now: The man who would know God must give time to Him."

So here's to the the balancing act. May God give me the wisdom and the discipline to live this moment in awareness of Him.

See you tomorrow. When I cover the urgent, pressing issue: Why are so many states requiring children to go back to school in the middle of summer? For cryin' out loud...