Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Coming Alive

Dear Little Man,

I'm so grateful to be your mama. When you were eight weeks along -- before you were born, just beginning your life's journey -- my doctor wanted to make sure you weren't twins. She took the Preacher and me into a room and slathered my still-flat tummy with goo.

For the first time, we watched the galloping beats of your heart, and my own heart squeezed tight. I was a mama, for real a mother. And I knew this for sure: Wild beasts could not have kept me from you.

At that moment, you (all embryo-huge head, heart beating outside your body) were our son. Wonder stole our words; before I even knew I was crying, tears hit the table. I recall the doctor had something to say, but her words are blurred. But I remember your pull on my heartstrings, a new understanding of the beauty and brokenness of motherhood. I would love you and pray for you and try not to worry about you, that day and every day after.

You were born early but healthy, covered in baby down. (The Preacher may or may not have been extra proud that you were born with chest hair.) I believed suddenly in love at first sight.

And now, Little Man, you're six years old. Six, and I wonder where three and two and five and four went. Where are those sleepy newborn days? Gone?

But no, son . . . days are never gone. Now, they're poured out onto the soil of your life, watering the lanky form of my boy.
My boy, who loves to read, and use a hammer.
My boy, who was baptized in November.

My boy who's always been a music-lover, and lately
I hear you singing in the back of the car --
just quietly, to yourself, to Him;
you're singing, Hallelujah.
The boy I longed for is singing to the Giver, and I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
And my heart squeezes (still today), 'til I fear I'll die of love.

Until I remember, grateful, that
love is the life-giver.

And all this squeezing is my heart's coming alive, over and over again,
while you sing.

And I hope you never stop.

Thanks for Mother's Day,

Shared here: 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Photo Credit
Last week, the ShoeFitzes hiked a new-to-us part of the Appalachian Trail. Recently, we've spent evenings hiking an easier section, but that day we took a rockier path. With room for one person at a time, the trail sloped stubbornly upward.

From a distance, the Appalachians don't appear to hold the challenge of other mountain ranges. Over time, they've lost the sharp physique of a fitness model. Angles smoothed, our mountains curve a mother's silhouette, welcoming tough hikers and small children alike. Other ranges gleam stark and jagged; the Blue Ridge stand steady, quietly protecting. 

Yet smooth mountains aren't necessarily easy hikes.

Climbing last week, my hand gripped Little Man's tighter and tighter. (He, like his mama, has the propensity to walk too close to the edge.) We found the hike muddy and rubble-strewn. And if mud had made the upward hike tricky, it made the last part fully intimidating -- steep cliffside, overlooking brush falling maybe 60 degrees down to the road below.

Little Man asked, of course, why I wouldn't let him walk by himself. (Six years old is the new 16.) When we finally made it to level ground, he was poised to begin the hike all over again. His parents, on the other hand, were finished, exhausted.

How strange that on a hike that looked relatively simple, we could run into muddy hills, steep cliffs, and rubble-strewn paths. Less than a mile from the highway, our muscles strained with exertion. I wondered as we climbed whether people down there could see us. . . and whether, from far below, our hike appeared easy.

After all, from a distance, worn hills look so small.

It's strange, this hiking thing, because we all do it. We all hike. Sometimes, from the ground below, I watch friends climb their own trails. They tug families uphill, tiny children atop shoulders, older ones running ahead. From where I stand, their hills can look easy, soft.

From far away, I can't see the strain of their muscles, their sweat-stained shirts. I can't see the fear when someone slips, the push to get back to safety. All I see, from where I stand, is a walk in the sunshine. 

And I wonder whether I need glasses.

I wonder how many times I've envied the hike of friends, not realizing they were walking paths tossed with mud and rubble. Not seeing the rocks that gave way when they should've held firm. Not realizing their backpacks were heavier than mine in the first place. (Some of us, you know, carry more than water on our backs.)

How many times have I been so focused on the trail in front of my own feet, that I've been dead to the journey of others?

It's so easy to forget we're all hiking straight uphill.

Getting these eyes checked,

Shared here:Deep Roots

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Five Things - Dentist Edition

Today, I feel this huge sense of responsibility to blog about Easter and resurrection and things of significance like that. But instead, we're going to talk about the dentist. (I know, right?)

So you remember, of course, the incident I had with the dentist a few weeks ago, in preparation for my crown.

You'll be glad to know that eventually, I went to get the permanent crown - a gorgeous, whitish porcelain thing. It's probably the most expensive thing I've ever worn, and I adore it. (Plus, I'm glad to be able to chew on the right side again.)

Fresh off a renewed positive experience with dental procedures, I have some advice for those who might be apprehensive about this kind of work. We'll just call it:

Five Things to Remember at the Dentist

1) You're going to feel super vulnerable while he digs around in your mouth. But for the sake of his focus, try to appear peaceful and fearless. Hold still, and refrain from fidgeting.

2) Forget all about Rule #1. 

Consider this: No matter how much you don't fidget, fuss, or wiggle, you're still vulnerable with your head back and your neck exposed. This means no matter how still you are, he's bound to notice your carotid artery, which will be going wild. (Touch your artery while he's turned around to get more Novocaine, and you'll see what I mean.) The point is, no matter how still you are. . . the gig's up.

3) When the dentist tells you a temporary crown is fragile, believe him. Follow the rules: No crunchy or sticky food. How easy is that?

But when you don't listen, and you chip that blasted temporary piece -- don't be scared to confess. After all, you're not the first person who's ever broken the rules. If he's a good dentist, he'll ask if you're in pain and blame the plastic crown instead of lecturing you.

4) During the final crowning, be honest when the dentist asks if something feels sensitive. This isn't the time for courage! In the dentist's chair, sensitivity turns to pain. Be willing to ask for narcotics; there's no shame in being numb (literally) up to your eyeballs.

Nor is there any shame in having one numb eyeball wandering aimlessly, like a balloon in a windstorm. This is a natural response to three shots of Novocaine. (Don't ask me how I know this.)

5) Pay up-front for your services. That way, no matter how expensive the work is, you'll feel like it was free when you walk out with your porcelain treasure.

Don't you feel better now?

Happy to be of Service,

Photo credit: Crown

Monday, April 2, 2012



Early one morning, lying in bed after a midnight awakening by my son, I had a brilliant idea for a blog post.  Actually, I had two brilliant ideas, if you must know. (Nothing inspires writers like the middle of the night.)

Deciding not to write them down -- all sleepy, and How could I possibly forget? -- I fell sound asleep.

A few hours later, I awoke with the vague memory of two great ideas. . . and absolutely no clue what they were.

I'm one of those people who has to learn by experience.

(Maybe you can relate?)

Lesson learned,

Photo credit: Light Bulb

Sunday, March 18, 2012

In Perspective

Kids love to hear stories about the day they were born. 

I don't know if you've ever talked to your tiny folks about that day, but it's like magic for them - to know 
the first thing you thought the first time you saw them, 
what their baby hair looked like, 
who came to visit, 
and what the doctors and nurses said.
All the smallest details are magnified
because children need to hear their stories. 

(After all, what does the middle of a book mean when you've skipped the beginning?)

I try to give my kiddos a new detail often, although sometimes I tell the same story a hundred times. Like music, it calms them, fixing their eyes on mine as we walk the same road. It's the simplest song I sing, and one of the most important.

Ultimately, the words help my tiny folks see themselves in the bigger story, of grandparents and aunts and cousins and friends. Details shape the narrative they'll tell their own children and grandchildren. And this is the context they'll give that story, all the shared understanding that makes it our own:

We wanted you.
We wished for you, and waited.
When you came, 
we welcomed you. . .
and so did the rest of your family --
the ones who traveled hours to see you,
the ones who waited home, itching to meet you.
We all welcomed you;
we still do,
because we waited, and you came. . .
because we wanted you.

Those are the messages that permeate our narrative. And all of that -
the teaching and the detail and the time -
all of it both tells our story,
and writes it.

Painting word pictures,

Shared here:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Crowning Glory

A few weeks ago, for the first time in my adult life, I needed work done on a tooth. (Work. Sounds like such a harmless little word, doesn't it?)

The night before Thanksgiving, I had chipped a piece off one of my molars. No big deal, really. But it sure was sharp. And it sure was sensitive. And it sure was traumatic to Mrs. Tough Teeth.

So off to the emergency dentist we went to have a Band-Aid applied. The dentist warned me that the Band-Aid was only temporary. She said, "You've got 30 days, tops," and I nodded solemnly. No prob! 30 days is plenty of time to get back to the dentist for a real, live crown.

83 days later, I broke my Band-Aid.

(Don't judge. I was busy!)

Cue the second emergency dentist. He was understanding, and totally didn't raise an eyebrow when I told him the truth about my slacking tooth. Inserting a gravelly paste into my mouth, he told me to come back in the morning to start the crown process.

The next morning, when he stuck a Q-tip in my mouth and told me to bite down, I had no clue what was happening. But I obeyed; I was trying to make up for the sin of 83 days. Quickly, my mouth went numb, and I felt peaceful. This would be an easy fix.

*Cue the hypodermic needle.*

The last time I had work done on my teeth, I was a child. I'd never had Novocaine; laughing gas had always worked fine. So you can imagine my fright at seeing a needle the size of my arm heading toward my face. Thankfully, the Q-tip had done its work, and the spear went in with a dull pressure; I hardly noticed it!

But the medicine? Uh, not so much. It hit the inside of my gums with a warmth that washed into my cheek. My eyebrow went numb, and I panicked. I knew I needed to calm down before I jumped out of the chair and ran. 

So what does the good Preacher's wife do when she's afraid? She meditates on Scripture, of course! Only this Preacher's wife isn't so great at remembering things under pressure:

Think, think, think. Ok, so it's been a while since I've memorized anything. Hmm... "The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pas-"

Wait! Isn't Psalm 23 the chapter they read at funerals? Not good. 

Ok, so now what? John 3:16? Romans 3:23? Psalm 139? Oh, that's a good one!

Confession: I remembered exactly one verse of that chapter.

Thankfully, by this time the dentist was basically finished, and his (half-blind) assistant told me I looked too young to have a six-year-old. I don't know whether it was the medicine or the compliment, but suddenly my blood pressure leveled, and my heart started its normal pace again. He finished the job without a hitch, and I was scheduled for another day to get my real, live crown.

And in the end, I left the dentist knowing two things for sure:

1) I need to get back on top of the whole memorizing-Scripture thing; and

2) Maybe 83 days wasn't quite long enough.

Working toward the final crown,

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Born to Be

Today, the Preacher worked all day, which meant Princess and Little Man were in my solo care. All. Day. Long.

(Did I say, "Long"? 
Because I meant to say, "Loooonnnggg.")

If one thing in life is sure, it's this: The hours and minutes and seconds of days don't shift for anyone. And what can one mom do about it anyway - the days when time stretches and sticks right in the middle? I mean, I've heard about Carpe Diem, and the power of a treasured day. And I've practiced gratitude, too, focusing minutes into moments by the thousands. But sometimes the present blocks the big picture, maybe just a little. 

When I was a tiny girl, my dad walked me to the bus stop every day with this: "Stop watching your feet, Becki; pick your head up, and look around." Walking now with Little Man, I keep the same cadence: "Pay attention to where you're going, son. Take your eyes off your shoes." 

Sometimes, it's the long view we need.

When Princess was born, we had her dedicated by a man of God, whose life was spent in sacrifice. When he blessed her, he charged us (just the Preacher and me), snapping the slow spell of an infant with this:

"Remember, God didn't give you children to keep; this baby wasn't born to be a girl. She was born to be a woman."

A woman, like me. (Like me?) And my son, born to be a man, like his father.

Today, I had hours with the future staring me square in the face. The future, dripping milk onto couches. The future, learning to read at my table. . . and searching my eyes for approval.

It's holy gift, and frightening influence.

In the end, the long view isn't about wanting the kidlets to grow up too soon, or overlooking their innate value. They're a treasure now, and always will be. Still, here we're raising a boy and a girl, not to be who we want or to stay children forever --
but to be who they were born to be. 

And that makes all the difference, really. 

Breaking out the binoculars,