I Am Mama Hear Me Roar

I know that this blog is usually full of cute Ev quips or inspirational bits about parenting. Today the blog has a different tone. I’m as concerned with the secular culture of Ev’s growingupworld as I am with the ecclesiatic culture of his growingupworld. More than anything I want Ev to grow up to be man who sojourns with YHWH and abides in Jesus–a man who impacts his world for the better and takes a stand for equality and justice.

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Over the past few days I’ve read so much vitriol on Facebook. I’ve read about police violence and bigotry and defending the powerless and defending the law enforcement. I’ve read hurtful and angry words about those who commit suicide or suffer from depression. I’ve read disparaging and contemptible comments about f****ts and n******s. My heart has been heavy and my spirit discouraged by such outbursts of hatred.

And then Jamie, one of my favorite bloggers, weighed in. This blog post is one of the very best I’ve read. I hope you read it. Jamie talks about the whole picture. I won’t throw my biased, unfirsthandknowledgeable opinion into the ring about Michael Brown because I wasn’t there. I won’t delve into the details about Robin Williams and his faith (or lack thereof) because I never lived with him. The truth is these stories are tragic and heartbreaking on every level. I cannot begin to play judge and jury.

But I will take a stand for equality.

I will rise to my feet in the presence of injustice wherever I find it.

I will not be quiet because it makes some uncomfortable.

I will not be quiet because it makes some angry to hear that the reason Jesus was born was to fulfill his mission of love not to those who have, but I those who have not–to the least of these.

I will not be quiet so some can make themselves feel better about being advantaged by trying to justify tragedy or inequality; this demeans not only the individuals and families involved, but justice itself.

I will not be quiet so some can smugly claim that they have more faith or are less selfish because they’ve overcome difficulty or fillintheblank through prayer and bible reading.

I will take a stand against injustice and bigotry and hatred.

I will stand with Jesus on the side of “the weak, the burdened, the vulnerable, and the oppressed or depressed.”

I will always support the underdog.

No. I will not be quiet.

So consider this fair warning.

If my cry is too loud, you may wish to walk away now while you still have your hearing.

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Unhurried Lives

An unhurried sense of time is in itself a form of wealth. –Bonnie Friedman

Some people are simply not in a hurry; they come and go at their own pace when they are good and ready to do so. I don’t mind these folks. They can be amiable enough if one is patient, but when it so happens that one of these dontrushme people calls you mama….well, that’s a whole different story.

My first born chose his birth day by bursting the bag of waters which surrounded him (with quite a bang, I might add). Then, in typical characteristic fashion, he settled back into my womb and decided that he wasn’t quite ready to be born. Fourteen hours of walking changing positions and labor intensifying drugs later, Ryan had no choice but to be born.

Of course, after all the drama of his labor, I was exhausted and hoped for a quick delivery. When I saw the faces of the doctor and nurses after my first attempt at pushing, I knew something was wrong. The room buzzed into hurried motion. I was given oxygen, moved into my left side where I couldn’t see the monitor and told to push hard. Each time I did, I watched the faces of the medical staff crease with worry. I knew something was wrong and no one was telling me what it was. Finally, in a last ditch effort, the doctor gave me a nice large episiotomy, and Ryan was born.

The doctor counted out loud, “One, two, three!!! Wow! Three times!” He looked up at me, “Well, Mama, your son had that cord around his neck three times–that’s what caused his heartbeat to plummet every time you pushed. We can be thankful he is here and safe now.”

After his dramatic birth, Ryan continued to be frustrated with this world into which he’d been born. The littlest thing would send him into a crying jag that would last for hours. As a new mom I read every book and tried every method available to calm Ryan, but nothing seemed to work.

Nothing but time. Unhurried time.

Gradually, Ryan settled down into our little routine of simple living. As long as I didn’t try to rush him through a feeding or getting dressed or putting him down, and as long as I didn’t change our routine in any way for any reason, Ryan was a most cooperative and pleasant toddler.

Not many things have changed in the 25 years since his birth.

Ryan still doesn’t like to be rushed, and he still likes routine. He explained to me once that he loved routine because structure allows progression in a more efficient way. In this way, he could continue to grow because there was something that had been mastered.

Ryan was always good at seeing things. Like a good director, he had vision to see what would work or what would look good when it moved from a concept into a reality.

Ryan was my gotoguy for fixing things. From a a young age, he could figure out how to take things apart and put them back together again. I was always amazed at his patience and ability to see projects to completion.

I can’t think of any skill Ryan has set his mind to doing that he doesn’t do well–from dog training to furniture assembly to cooking haute cuisine.

His first quarter century has been racked with many difficult times, but through it all, Ryan has slowly, steadily and confidently accomplished goal after goal. In his beautiful, observant and unhurried way, he has quietly seen what needs to be done. And he has quietly accomplished it.

Even though when he was a young child I sometimes wanted to pull out my hair by the roots at his stubborn refusal to hurry or flex with a changed plan, I love my quiet boy who will not be rushed.

I love the way he observes the world–the way he observes me–and sees what needs to be done. Ryan doesn’t just see the obvious surface of what needs to be done; he sees the context of where, when, how and why. He comes along side and encourages and goes about getting the job done and bringing out the best in people along the way.

At least he seems to bring out the best in me.

For your next quarter century, Ryan, I wish you wisdom to see the important things in life and to unhurriedly enjoy them to the fullest. May your life be filled to overflowing in the same way you fill my life to overflowing.

“When we are unhurried and wise, we perceive that only great and worthy things have any permanent and absolute existence, that petty fears and petty pleasures are but the shadow of the reality.” –Henry David Thoreau, Walden

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Trade Offs

“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.” –William Faulkner

When I was pregnant with my second son, I started “nesting” right from the beginning of the pregnancy. I cooked meals from scratch, baked bread, sewed these pretty little flannel burp cloths, sorted through and washed all the newborn clothes by month four, painted the bedroom and generally waited with excitement for his birth.

Because I had preeclampsia with Ryan (my firstborn), I was very careful of my diet, cutting back on sodium while upping my protein intake. Overall, the pregnancy was uneventful, and I looked forward to giving birth in a freestanding birthing center attended by midwives instead of a traditional hospital. Actually, the wonderful pregnancy led me to be a little cocky about parenting a second child in general.

“You got this.” I told myself smugly. “No problem.”

After all, my firstborn cried four hours straight every night for months on end. His birth also entitled me to horrible labor inducing meds, a brutal episiotomy requiring more than thirty stitches, and an extended recovery period lasting most of his first year. Now, I was a seasoned professional. I was having midwives. I truly believed nothing could be worse than the infanthood of my firstborn.

What I discovered was that there are trade offs in everything.

The birthing center was beautiful and peaceful, but even they were surprised at the speed with which Aaron decided to be born. No labor inducing drugs were necessary. He flew out so fast his birth was nearly unattended by any midwife at all. Oh and he was kind enough to leave skid marks inside me. Nothing could slow his entry into the world. No stitches were required, but those skid marks were their own special kind of inconvenience.

I was so cocky about being in control of this birth that I didn’t pay attention to how Aaron latched on the first time he ate. As a result, I suffered through painful feedings for nearly three weeks.

Yes. There were indeed trade offs in this secondchildgig.

On the upside, Aaron was calm and peaceful and slept for four to five hours once a night right from the first day I brought him home. If he woke up earlier than I wanted him to, I would throw one of those hand stitched flannel burp cloths I made over his head, and he’d conk right out for another hour or so. (To this day, he still loves to sleep with a hoodie over his head.) Aaron rarely cried and went to bed awake without needing any special rocking or fuss.

But about three years old, Aaron discovered his temper. Perhaps he was so laid back in the beginning, he just stored it all up and saved it for year three. Whatever the reason, the season of temper tantrums hit Aaron with a vengeance. And they stuck around for a number of years, too.

I remember one time hearing some serious scuffling going on upstairs and heading up to see what exactly was happening. I found Ryan holding Aaron’s head at arms length and Aaron just swinging away at the air toward Ryan.

Immediately I set about rescuing poor Aaron, “Let him go Ryan! That’s just not nice!”

Ryan kept a firm hold on Aaron’s head and looked at me as if I had just grown another head, “Are you kidding me, mom?! If I let him go, those fists are heading straight into me!!!!”

“Oh no. He won’t hit you.” I said, confident in my ability to intervene. I looked Aaron in the eyes, “You won’t keep hitting him if he lets go, will you Aaron?”

My answer was a deepened frown and an increased intensity in his swing. Once Aaron made his mind up about anything (even being angry), there was no talking him out of it. He might come around eventually, but it would be on his own terms and at his own pace.

The evening of the scuffle between the boys, Aaron eventually tired and Ryan let go. They made up as they always did, and life went in as usual…until the next time.

Aaron’s temper was close to the surface for a number of years, but gradually his temper grew and settled into a kind of fierce determination. As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry writes in The Little Prince: “The only things you learn are the things you tame.” Aaron didn’t let his his temper get the best of him; he learned to funnel all that energy into determination. He didn’t sit around and wait for life to happen to him, instead he went out and happened to life.

He still does. Just as Aaron raced into this world at breakneck speed, so he races into every experience in his life.

Today on his birthday, I celebrate the man he has become–a go-getter who follows his dreams, knows his passions and isn’t afraid to work hard to attain both. He doesn’t let obstacles or change stand in his way. Today, on his birthday I celebrate Aaron and his spirit of determination!

I wouldn’t trade a moment of the days I’ve spent with you, Aaron. May you continue to forge ahead wherever God leads you.

Happy 22nd Birthday!

“Determine that the thing can and shall be done and then… find the way.” –Abraham Lincoln

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Bravery Matters

We have to be braver than we think we can be, because God is constantly calling us to be more than we are. –Madeleine L’Engle

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I’ve been thinking a lot about bravery today–about what exactly it means to be brave. I turned to my old friend Merriam-Webster for initial guidance, just to see if I was even on the right track. At first all the dictionary gave me was “courageous behavior or character.”

Great. Now I was left with another word to define.

A little further on I read: “Bravery is the quality that allows someone to do things that are dangerous or frightening.” And then maybe half way down the page of the google list, the word courage popped up in big letters–bigger than all the rest on the search page.

“Courage – Courage is the ability and willingness to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation.”

By this definition, I suppose I can honestly say I have courage. I’m not afraid to speak my mind even if it means losing some friends–or a job. I’m not a fearful person in general. I love to walk outside in the dark at the lake house with only the moonlight to guide me. I have often walked into the unknown of a new experience with my eyes wide open, heart pounding in my chest. I have traveled to many new places alone, even places where I did not speak the local language. I have never minded or been afraid of being hungry when there was a scarcity of food. I have looked bullies straight in the eye and walked away with nary a scratch.

All those things I have done in the past.

But still I wonder about the future: Will I have the courage to swim across the current of negative opinion and harsh criticism? Will I be able to take a stand for what I believe is right and good and honest in the face of persecution not from my enemies, but from my “friends”? Will I have the fortitude to forge ahead with a detached intrepidity that looks only to love and justice for guidance?

I look at Ev. He’s five. The next 13 years of my life will be spent shaping him, guiding him, pointing out the way to live to him with every comment I speak or leave unspoken. My life will lead him.

And I wonder: What do I want my life to say?

I want to tell him that no matter what, standing up for the broken-hearted and voiceless is what really matters; that God created all people equal not the writers of the Declaration of Independence; that it is never all right to choose what he wants based on practicality or fear.

Living a life of love is what matters.

Lovingasawayofliving as I like to call it.

The opposite of love is not hate, but fear. Through the ages great men have said it in different ways. Gandhi said: “The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear.” Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” And of course I can’t leave out John Lennon: “There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back…When we are in love, we open up…” Or a better quote yet: “All you need is love. Love. Love is all you need.”

Before all of them, The Aposlte John said it in his epistle: “Perfect love casts out fear.” It’s not wrong to have fear, but we must push through our fear. Fear is based on judgment and love holds none. True bravery faces the fear and love overcomes it.

Love and fear cannot coexist.

I want my life to shout, “Love and fear cannot coexist!”

Living in love without fear is true bravery and courageous living. My prayer is that Ev picks up this truth like a favorite rock on the beach and places it in a treasured place in his heart. I pray I demonstrate how to invoke a stouthearted approach to life and its challenges.

In the face of harsh criticism, I want to stand strong with my loving heart intact.

Bravery matters.

Lovingasawayofliving matters.

dauntless and daring
in the face of danger,
valor and honor
work together with boldness and love
to form a new kind of hero:
a brave one
who loves without fear.

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Helovesme Helovesmemore

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I was reading through the notes on my phone and came across a couple little gems I had written down so as not to forget them. I can’t remember if I posted them or not.

The whole gist of the first conversation reminded me of unconditional love. I don’t think anyone loves more purely and completely than a child does with his parents.

No matter what I do or how I think I’ve made an utter mess of this parenting gig, Ev comes back with love.

Pure love.

Adoration even.

Here’s what happened: the other day Ev came to me very seriously and said, “I have a very important question to ask you, Mama.”

Then, he very seriously took my hand, slid a plastic ring on my finger and asked, “Mama, would you marry me when I grow up?”

My heart melted.

A couple I weeks later, I wrote down anther random conversation. While driving, the Little Wonder was in the back seat and heard Trace and I discussing the Blissfest music festival coming up.

In the conversation we were discussing whether or not Ev would like to attend it.

“Personally, I don’t see why we can’t just take the little guy with us,” I said quite casually.

A voice from the back seat piped up: “Mom I’m NOT little. I’m a big guy.”

Oops. I knew I had crossed a line and offended Ev with my comment.

“You’re right, Love. Sometimes I’m not careful with my words, and I forget. Please forgive me.”

Ev countered: “Yeah, ya do forget, mom, but it’s ok. I Iove you just the way you are.”

Thank goodness for that!

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Every day, Ev heals my soul, mending all the cracks and fissures I’ve tried to ignore. He smooths over the painful rough edges with his joy of life. Every day, Ev teaches me something new about unconditional love and kindness. Every day Ev teaches me something about the heart of God.

Wess Stafford, President, Compassion International has stated, “Every child you encounter is a divine appointment.”

On the outside it may seem like Evan was an addendum or a mistake, but there is no mistaking how much I didn’t even know I needed him. In the depths of my heart, I know for sure and for certain the arrival of Ev was a divine appointment for me. And not only his arrival, but each and every day since then.

My reality is simple: I see God in those pools of blue eyes every single day.

“Children are the hands by which we take hold of heaven.”
–Henry Ward Beecher

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Folksmusic

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Evart, Michigan is a small town among small towns. Nestled along the Muskegon River, Evart boasts a single road of charming downtown, a city hall depot, a hotel and a summer concert series that includes the Evart Folk Fest. My friend Mary has been inviting me to attend this event for a few years now. Evart is very close to my mom’s lake house, and this year, I decided to head over that way with Ev.

Ev and I pretty much travel everywhere together. He is my little buddy and companion, but like my oldest Ryan, he likes to know the plan. Even if the plan is a loose one, he has to know what’s going on. Because earlier this summer we headed to another northern Michigan hidden treasure called Blissfest, Ev understood the idea of a music festival—and as he calls it, a folksmusic one in particular.

“So Mama, when are we going to the Folksmusicfestuhbal?” To Evan, this is one word, clearly enunciated. Several times a day from the first day I told him until the moment we were on our way, Ev asked this question.

He was very concerned about whether or not there would be a “kids’ area like at Blissfest”.

“Well, there might be one, but we can’t know for sure if there is a kids’ area until we get there.”

“But do you think there is one, Mom?”

This was asked in tandem with the “when are we going to the folksmusicfestuhbal” question. Like a pair, they belonged together and Ev rubbed them together in his mind like worry stones, wondering if this was going to be yet another all adult event.

I feel for Ev. I really do. He is a social guy—an extrovert of the extrovertiest kind—with an introvert (and getting introvertier by the day) for a mama. My poor little wonder.

Most of Ev’s days are filled with imaginative play, talking to himself and building all sorts of things out of Legos. At one time, the Legos were new and had pictures and instructions for building, but those days are long gone. Now the Legos live in one great big plastic jumblebin and all the pictures of Lego ideas must come from his own imagination.

Of course, there is Lila, the neighbor girl and Ev’s self-proclaimed girlfriend. She is eight and watches over Ev like her own personal little live baby doll. He tolerates the hovering because they play imaginatively. The other day the two of them dragged out every small stuffed animal we have and played Zoo.

“We’re playing zoo, mama.”

“Who are you? Are you the zookeeper?”

“No, Lila’s the zookeeper. I’m the security officer watching over all the animals.” (Of course, he is. I have to smile to myself at this one. He is a protector by nature—so much like his brother Ryan.)

Although Ev and Lila play just about every evening, his days are filled mostly with middle aged women, namely his mama and her colorful assortment of friends.

Sometimes I worry about this.

While we were at the folksmusicfestuhbal in Evart, I was watching him settle in among all the women there. He helped as he could with the picnic lunch, gave people napkins, offered cheese and crackers. He was quite the young host. I thought about how easily he moves among adults, how grown up his vocabulary, how quickly he shifts to his own quiet play when the women began to chat.
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Then, when a new concert started, we moved under the big tent to sit in our chairs and listen. Ev sat nicely in his chair and asked me questions about the instruments and the music. He munched on Japanese corn snacks. He tapped in feet and clapped his hands. He was completely absorbed in the aura of the folksmusicfestuhbal until…
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Until he spotted the girl sitting next to my friend Mary.

She was about his age with pretty brown hair, and Ev was smitten. I can always tell when he is smitten by his innate need to show off his masculine prowess. This only seems to happen when he spots a girl who catches his fancy. During a song, he sauntered over and climbed up on Mary’s lap in order to be closer to the girl. After making eye contact, he started punching himself (admittedly not the brightest way to show prowess) and kicking his feet karate style. He twitched and turned a sidelong glance to the girl as he gave his best shot at a roughandtough look. Stifling guffaws, I about spit out the water I was drinking through my nose.

The little girl smiled and offered him some popcorn.

Ev smiled back and extended his Japanese corn snacks.

The two began to chat comfortably as they munched, and all was well with his world.

In some ways, I felt relieved to see this normal exchange of pre-tween hormones. I was glad to see him talk as easily with adults as with kids his own age. He seemed to move between the worlds with an ease and grace that most adults would envy. As Ev settled into easy friendship with the young girl, it made me hopeful that all the time spent with middle aged women is not ruining him for life.

Somehow, I think he’ll make it through without much need for therapy. (Just let me shoot for the stars here.)

An added bonus is all the great folksmusic he gets to enjoy along the way.

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No Worries

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” –Corrie ten Boom

In the middle of a busy day, Evan suddenly paused and got my attention: “Mom, stop for a second. I need to pray for something right now.”

There was an urgency to his tone and a real sincerity about his demeanor. Needless to say, I stopped.

“Ok Ev. Go ahead. I’ll pray with you.”

Ev leaned up against the kitchen island, folded his hands and with a fervent look, bowed his head on his hands.

Then he began to talk to God.

And let me tell you, that child can talk to God in the most natural and familiar way. I find it refreshing and inspiring all at once.

Ev prayed, “Thank you that you created this big, amazing universe, God. I need to talk to you about something. When I was at a baseball game, I found this feather, Lord–a feather from a bird. I wanna pray about it because maybe the bird must have died or something. I’m very worried. Please take care of it for me and for the momma bird who might be missing her baby. Thank you Lord. Amen.”

When he was finished, Ev looked up at me from his folded hands and smiled.

“No worries, Mom. God’s got this,”

Little did Ev know in that moment how much his mama needed to hear those words. In the midst of planning a high school graduation open house, getting my daughter packed up for a year away overseas, returning from a six day visit to my son and daughter in law in Spokane for my son’s college graduation, I often find myself awake at night and unable to sleep. I often find myself lost in worry.

Enter Ev and his childlike trust and wisdom.

Through Ev’s prayer, I heard the voice of God speaking directly to me, “Relax. No worries Carla. I’ve got this.”

Ok then. I think I’ll rest right there.

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” –Jesus

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FaceTiming God

“We should be astonished at the goodness of God, stunned that He should bother to call us by name, our mouths wide open at His love, bewildered that at this very moment we are standing on holy ground.”
–Brennan Manning

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“I’m gonna be talking to God now,” Ev begins, plopping down next to me with his bible.

“Could you FaceTime God for me please, Mama? So I can talk to him all I want?”

Looking down at him I want to explain to him how God can’t be seen, how he has no face to FaceTime, how God is spirit and not flesh. But then I look into his eyes and catch a glimpse of his little concrete, lifeisblackandwhite, Godisasrealasmyblankie soul, and I tell him I’m not on wifi so I can’t FaceTime. It’s true, of course, but I don’t think he really understands how this works. He accepts the words as reality. No wifi, no FaceTime, he’s heard me say it many times before.

He’s also heard me talk to God–yes, out loud–don’t judge me. In fact, I talk about God (as well as to God) all the time. Ev has seen me question God in difficult situations. Yes, I even do that out loud. God is a part of our world and everyday conversations.

Now I know there may be some who might roll their eyes right about belief in an unseen God.

I encourage you to not throw away the story yet. If you’ve made it this far, I can tell you the best is yet to come.

The truth is, I don’t always believe; I struggle in the here and now to believe that God is at work, forming and shaping people into more compassionate, more loving, kinder beings. I don’t even have to wait to read or hear about the evils happening everywhere in the world; I can simply interact with some who call themselves Christian and see the struggle with darkness.

Even though I personally have experienced the comforting presence and powerful peace of God in my own life, I still struggle when faced with what seems to be total darkness.

Ev is my constant reminder that miracles can happen and light can shine into the darkness when whispered wishes muttered mantralike in the still of night are heard as prayers by God.

He is listening. He is listening.

In real time, Ev has easily accepted the fact that he can’t FaceTime God right now and has moved on to a story.

He plants his face two inches from mine, not realizing, of course, the closer he is, the blurrier he looks to my old eyes: “Let me tell you a story about God, Mama. Ok?”

Ev probably thinks I need to hear a God story because I was frustrated with him last week for washing his his Hot-wheels in his bed. He filled a container with water and had a grand old time slipping and sliding with water all over his mattress.

At least he had a grand time until I walked in and the party was over…in a New York minute.

Ev begins his story without waiting for my go ahead: “God loves you. He loves you when you are naughty. He loves you when you are sleeping. He loves you when you are pitching a fit. He loves you when you are sitting in the stairs after you pitch a fit.”

“Really! It’s true mama!” He looks up at me with those big blue eyes and nods his head vigorously.

“God loves you all the time. He loves you more than the sun and the moon and the stars and all the stuff he created. Isn’t that a wonderful story mom?”

It sure is, I think to myself.

The Little Wonder amazes me once again with his ability to catch on to abstract ideas even when they are not intentionally being directed his way.

Ev is my personal reminder that God loves me.

No matter what.

Even when I pitch a fit.

God gave me Ev in one of the darkest junctures of my life, and the light from my Little Wonder hasn’t stopped shining yet.

Every day I am reminded of God’s love when I look into Ev’s shining eyes.

Every day I am grateful for Ev’s life–born out of deep sorrow, lived out in pure joy.

Every day.

Every. Single. Day.

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Pass the Goodness and Grace, Please

It’s hard to find yummy sweet treats that fit with Ev’s gluten free diet.

While I prepare most meals from scratch on a regular basis (see http://www.wholefoodventure.com for a new food blog I just started with my girlfriend). I usually like to adhere to a fairly strict no bake rule for breakfast–yogurt, toast with peanut butter, oatmeal in the microwave, etc. are the fancy feast choices.

On a school day, I rarely make French toast or pancakes.

This morning, however, Ev saw a cinnamon roll left over from a non gluten free breakfast on the counter, and he wanted his own gluten free cinnamon roll. Of course, there was no way I was making him cinnamon rolls on a school morning.

Instead, I offered him one of my creative almostasgoodas specials–gluten free French toast sticks–as a alternative.

To make the gluten free French toast sticks, I start with (surprise, surprise) gluten free bread. I toast it, butter it, and top it with cinnamon sugar. Then I slice it in finger-like sticks. If I have it on hand, I will make a glaze from powdered sugar and rice milk to drizzle over the top.

The drizzle is Ev’s favorite.

“Mama, do you have the stuff to make the frostin?” I can see he’s hopeful. So. Very. Hopeful.

“Let me see…” I fished through the pantry and saw the bag of powdered sugar.

“Ta-da” I pulled out the purple package with a smile.

Ev watched with delight as I mixed in the rice milk and made a glaze. He stirred it quite vigorously and then “helped” me drizzle it over the sticks.

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At the first bite, his eyes rolled back into his head.

“Oh Mama. This so delicious!”

“You’re a mother of goodness…..and grace.”

“Yep,” he added liking the way that sounded to his ears, “you’re a mother of goodness and grace.”

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As I’m reflecting on this after a long, hard day when the tiredness has seeped into my bones, I think I’ll take it.

A mother of goodness and grace.

More often than not, I have come into mothering with only my brokenness and found myself put back together by the goodness of grace time and time again.

So….

Skip the French toast sticks and pass me some more of that goodness and grace, please.

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Lights and Shadows

Life is composed of lights and shadows, and we would be untruthful, insincere, and saccharine if we tried to pretend there were no shadows. Most things are good, and they are the strongest things; but there are evil things too, and you are not doing a child a favor by trying to shield him from reality. The important thing is to teach a child that good can always triumph over evil.
–Walt Disney Company

My mom has been struggling with nosebleeds lately. We’ve consulted with the doctor, visited the urgent care, and made an appointment with an ENT specialist and still mom’s nose bled today. She tried all of the home remedies and after four hours of constant bleeding called me.

Yes.

AFTER four hours of bleeding.

Ev and I quickly dressed, ate breakfast and then headed over with mom to the local ER where Ev’s best-friend-in-the-whole-world Trace works as a Security Officer. When Trace got off duty, she popped her head in and took Ev on “an adventure”…just in the nick of time as he was beginning to get antsy.

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Ev and Trace are a duo of delight–full of belly laughs and crazy fun and even serious conversation. One of their favorite traditions is making videos together on Trace’s iPhone.

Lately the videos have begun something like this:

“Hi this is Evan and,” pointing over his shoulder at the spikey haired blonde holding the iPhone, “this is my girl Trace.”

His girl Trace.

He says he wants to marry her when he he grows up and when the age discrepancy is brought to his attention, he simply poo-poos it away. Ev is a great big bundle of love–eager to extend it to others and easily receiving it in return. I am always a little in awe of this dexterity of his.

In his usual affable way, Ev begins the video with his girl Trace. He takes charge as a mini director, but quietly, Trace’s influential voice can be heard guiding Ev to think beyond himself and pray for others in need.

Ev responds with his open and willing heart and adds, “and we need to pray for the people in Venezuela.”

My heart swells.

He remembers. He remembers!

He remembers how we talked about the people there in need of a new government who was chosen by the people. He remembers the story of their suffering for freedom. I love how tender his heart is toward injustice and how sincere he is with his vigilant concern.

My Little Wonder.

He teaches me something every day. He makes me aware of how little he misses in the adult conversation which surrounds him. He unabashedly stands up for the underdog and calls oppression by its name–bad people. He is the picture of God’s kind of love.

Mom is home now with a sinus cavity full of packing, in pain and awaiting a fun-filled trip to the ENT for cauterization.

But she is here, and I am grateful.

I had wanted to attend the funeral of my friend’s mother today. Her mom’s death was sudden, and the family is still feeling shell shocked, reeling from the sudden permanence of it. Earlier in the week, I attended the funeral of another friend’s father–one day here, the next day gone. Again a sudden, staggering loss. 

So I am grateful for a day spent in the ER with my mom.

I am grateful for my mom’s arms around me.

As she hugged me and thanked me for taking her to the ER, my mom whispered in my ear, “Ev is such a precious treasure, he even makes a trip to the hospital full of joy!”

Yes.

He certainly does.

At the end I this day filled with lights and shadows, I am bone tired and ever so content. Life is full of plot twists and plan changes and visits to the ER and heart wrenching funerals, but in all of this, I am mindful of the joy and constancy of love–especially the love of my family and sweet friends.

And of course, the love of my Little Wonder.

The soul is healed by being with children. –Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Posted in Food and Love, Funny Stories, Injuries, Parenting, Sickness, Social Justice and Equality, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment