Tag Archives: baby

A Baby, Why?

I was lingering over coffee with a friend this week when she suddenly said, “Why did God choose to come as a baby?” Yes, this is just one example of the delicious people I spend time with these days.

I told her I genuinely did not know but nothing could be more surprising, unexpected or tender. She added, “Or, in need of care.”

It somewhat paralleled another feeling I was having lately about my daughter’s pregnancy  Our world seems so divisive, chaotic, fearful, angry and upside down right now and yet, our family has another tiny baby boy coming our way in the spring.  I was thinking, “Thank God for a lovely, hopeful, opposite-of-everything-else, sign of new life.”

My friend’s words just keep ringing in my ears, “God’s revelation in Jesus came in need of human care.” God’s Word came needing flawed humans to keep it alive.  Isn’t that something?

An all-powerful, all-knowing God chose to be revealed to us but packaged that Word as an infant.

So here’s what I’m wondering this Advent,  are we looking in all the wrong places for Truth, Light, Righteousness and Justice? Maybe we are searching for BIG answers or an adult leader to be in charge of the world while God is delivering truth in tiny, fragile, unexpected ways that need us to see the truth, cradle it, feed it, sing to it and help it grow.

When our grandson was born, even though I had raised three babies of my own, I was stunned at how much he needed us. I was struck by the fact that he seemed to thrive and be comforted from day one by sleeping held closely on a loved one’s chest, hearing a heart beating next to his. I marveled at there flex he had to grasp a finger with his tiny hand and hold on.

What if God’s latest Word has already been delivered and it is like that, in need of human nurture, love and connection? What if it’s waiting on us to respond so it can thrive and transform us and our world? Are you looking this advent for some small, infant-like wisp of justice, goodness, grace or peace? Is there some tender piece of Good News that needs to nestle safely in your arms and grow?

It’s happened before…

 

 

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A Tiny Christmas

Right now I’m looking at a vintage manger scene I have.  It is about 4 inches tall and has just three figures in it, a camel, Joseph and Mary holding the baby.  The baby is about 1/4th of an inch long.  It is the only decoration I have in the room. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve looked at it with wonder this year.

I keep thinking about all I’ve put out in past years to decorate. I couldn’t focus on anything because I had everything. Now I just keep looking at this tiny quarter-inch baby and it fills me.

Our first grandson was born a few months ago. He was 8 lbs. and 6 ounces, but tiny. I stared forever at the littleness of his pinky fingernail. I don’t even know how any of that works that we begin so tiny, but are pre-programmed to grow.

When God wanted to interject change into the soul of our world, God went tiny. I’m choosing tiny this season too.

I plan to be a tiny bit more rested and refreshed. I want to care a tiny bit more about others’ needs. I want to pray a tiny bit more; write a tiny bit more. I want to savor the sights, sounds and smells of the season a bit more. I want to light one candle and let that be enough.

So much about Christmas is big and loud and overdone. This weekend I was at a store where they ran out of shopping carts. The store was filled with people with every shopping cart the store owned. The people were filling the carts to overflowing. The line to check out looked like Six Flags, weaving to and fro several times and then still almost halfway through the store. Everyone had too much stuff. They are going to take all that stuff home and wrap it up and give it to other people who are going to have too much stuff.

I crave tiny. A quarter-inch baby is plenty to look at and have change my life. Thank you, God, for going tiny.

 

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Room, Space, Beauty…

I’ve been so focused on stuff and space these last months. Today is the first day in well over two months that I’ve been home without workers here and without needing to either move items into my house or back out of it due to our remodel project.

After losing our kitchen for a while, our den and living room, our bedrooms and bathrooms, I’m celebrating space. I didn’t realize how important it is to me to have my chair, my table right there for my coffee, my patio, my journal where I can find it. I realize now, I like having a bedroom, a computer hooked up and family pictures to look at. I’m also celebrating closets instead of clothes in the garage.

My daughter gave me a sign with a quote from Elsie de Wolfe that reads, “I will make everything around me beautiful-that will be my life.” I’ve spent time these past months making room and space in our home for beauty. I have donated carloads of things to now let someone else enjoy. I’ve given away big pieces of furniture. I’m making room for beauty.

And then, I make this speech every year, I simplified Christmas yet again. No need to keep reading if you are the person who loves all your boxes of decorations and you love putting out each and every decoration. I’m not writing this for you. Carry on, with joy!

I’m writing to those of you who dread putting it all out and packing it back up. I’m speaking to those who feel they should hold onto a decoration because Aunt Marge gave that to me and so on. Here’s my advice: just don’t. Just do less.

I feel like women bear most of this holiday burden.  We tend to be the decorators, the bakers, the list makers, the shoppers, the event planners. We do all these things plus our jobs,  our parenting and our work in the community. I have long believed this is TOO MUCH for many of  us.  We should stop.

In past years, I’ve downsized all kinds of what I previously believed were holiday musts. This year, since I had just purged and moved back into my treasured spaces, I felt I simply could not now haul box after box from the attic and put it all out in the name of decorating for Christmas. So I didn’t. We have a tree. We have some Christmas dishes to eat on. I have whole rooms that used to have all kinds of stuff that now just don’t. The room I’m writing in right now has a single manger scene in it. I love it. The spaciousness of it all is beautiful to me.

One of the whole points of Christmas is making room for something new to be born. Isn’t it strange how we over-decorate, over-buy, over-hype and then the baby is relegated to  the stable out back?

Room. Space. Beauty.  Here, I can breathe now. Here, I can  watch and wait. Here, I can light one little candle and let it be enough. Here, I will see what new-born gift God has for me. Room. Space. Beauty..

Celebrate!

Jesus said, “I came that you might have life and have it in its fullness.” John 10:10

Oprah said, “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”

I love it when my favorite people agree on things.

With our new grandson, we are in a season of celebration. Recently, my daughter told me she felt a little weird with everyone giving them presents, meals, showers and parties just for having a baby. I told her, “Life is hard and peopel need reasons to celebrate. Everyone loves celebrating a baby. Let them.”

But it is more than the grandson. It is me being in a new, easier, more restful, peaceful season of life. (On Monday my one chore was to get two hummingbird feeders, fill them and hang them because now I have time to notice them.) It is being five years past breast cancer. It is having three beautiful children who are at the moment happy and engaged with life. It is having a loving attentive husband that I still like after 31 years together. Did I tell you our sweet grand baby was born on our 31st anniversary? No one could have planned that gift.

It is that fall is coming; I am sure of it.  It is last Saturday having two family gatherings at our home and seeing our grandson meet 2 sets of great grandparents, 2 great aunts, aunts, uncles and cousins for the first time. It was my mom’s 80th birthday too. We surprised her with her great-grandson. She screamed, smiled and cried and told me it was the best birthday party she’d ever had. Even Alzheimer’s couldn’t take away that joy. One tiny baby and all those relatives just lining up for a snuggle, a smile.  We even loved it when he cried.

It is tomorrow, the 28th anniversary of when I became a mom. I celebrate the wonder of watching our daughter grow from adorable baby, to funny toddler, to goofy child who made up her own words, to awkward middle school kid, to dramatic high school student, college girl, married woman, speech therapist and now happy, attentive new mommy/wife and professional. The girl who made up all those words is teaching kids how to say them right. My celebration cup seems like it can’t hold one more drop of joy.

There’s still hard stuff happening, of course. A funeral for a dear, longtime colleague, gone too soon; normal worries; aches and pains; life stuff. But laced through it all are sweet gifts: sunrises, sunsets, hummingbirds, babies, soft pillows, good books, friends, coffee, family, milestones… so much to celebrate!

Baby Lessons

Mondays and Tuesdays. Those are normally the most difficult and routine days of the week, filled with back to work,  school and chores usually. It seems those two days are the least likely to be fun.

Not so for me right now. Life has fallen pleasantly so that I’m spending Mondays and Tuesdays with our two month old grandson while his mom returns to her Speech Pathologist job. It’s worked out even though they live 5 hours away. I’m helping only for a season, which makes it even sweeter.

We are only on week two, but already we have both taught each other things.

He’s been exclusively breastfed so far so taking a bottle has been hard for him. I had to teach him the first lesson: you don’t always get the meal you want, sometimes you just have to eat. Thankfully, I’m very persuasive.

The rest of the lessons, he has taught me:

-Everything is worse when you are tired, wet or hungry. Address those things and life is much better.

-Warm baths also change everything.

-When things are not working, change something. Even just rolling over can lend a whole new perspective.

-Try music.

-It’s nice to have colorful, beautiful things to look at.

-The more people who love you the better.

-Sometimes you just need to be held.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lock Eyes and Smile

Even though it was 27 years ago, I still remember my daughter’s first smile. I’d been giving and giving and giving to that child. I shared my body with her. I gave birth to her which was a pretty major endeavor. And then for those first six weeks or so it was that endless cycle of nursing, diaper changes, getting to know her, miles and miles of rocking her to sleep. On this one, crisp October morning she locked eyes with me and smiled. It was a for real smile not a gas or accident smile. I remember being astounded. I even said out loud to her, “You mean you’re going to give something back?” It filled me, that smile.

So fast forward a few decades. Her son is now six weeks old. He’s been smiling a bit but those were just accidental smiles amid the myriad of faces he makes awake and asleep. I love all his faces. His mad cry face is one of my favorites, but I like them all. I just happened to be there the week he started to smile (because I can’t quit going back to take him in.)

He locks eyes and smiles. I wish I had words to describe how that felt…like connection, wonder, rebirth, joy, love. Then of course, I was beside myself trying to get him to smile again and again. He has a crooked smile and it is gorgeous.

And now he joins that great company of people, all around the world who can gift one another with a smile. A smile is the same in every language amazingly. It cuts across cultures, traditions and socio-economic classes.

The day my grandson smiled at me, I decided I was going to do that too. If he could bring that much joy to me, I can share it. So, I’m practicing: just lock eyes and smile; lock eyes and smile. Strangers seem to like it. Wait staff at restaurants do too. My husband enjoys it and so does my big football player son. You have to look up from your phone or your work or your computer and notice people to do it. It takes practice.

Mother Teresa, always wise and perceptive, said, “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.” I’ve learned it from babies.k smile Lock eyes and smile and see what happens.

Stilled

Being still as a spiritual concept always sounded good to me. With all our busyness, most of us are drawn to and crave that one verse Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”  I had that verse on a cute pink magnet hanging on my computer back when I had an office. I used to look longingly at it and wish I could be still.

Three weeks ago yesterday, I fell in a hole taking a picture of a most gorgeous sunset (I still think there’s something sad, strange and ironic about how it happened.) The next day, at the ER, the doctor delivered the news, “fractured ankle, stay off of it until you can see a specialist.” Do you know how incredibly difficult it is to “stay off your foot?” I will not go into the difficulties of those days but all was made worse in that I was 5 hours from home; awaiting the birth of my first grandson where I had planned to be super helpful and mobile.

Back home, the specialist told me I could have a boot, bear weight on my foot and even shower like a normal person so I loved him and cried tears of joy and relief in his office to the point that his assistant had to go find tissues. The sweet baby came 9 days after I fell in the hole. I made it back to Houston in time. I was super functional. I cooked. I did laundry. I changed diapers and outfits and loved on him fully. My boot and I were one.

Home again for my follow-up foot appointment, I was told it was healing well. Then the words coming out of the doctor’s mouth got fuzzier because he was saying things I didn’t want to hear. Him: “This is going to take 9-12 weeks to heal.” “You need to wear the boot anytime you walk.”Me: “12 weeks? That will be autumn when I become boot free!” “I can drive, right?  Him: “No, that would be catastrophic.”

I quit talking but in my mind I was still arguing. Why did he have to use a big scary word like “catastrophic” in relation to my driving?  At home, still in denial, I wondered if I could drive with my left foot. My teenager forbid it, “Mom, you aren’t even a good driver with your right foot. No. Just no.” Suddenly, I have the one wise, sensible teenager on the planet?

Be still. Heal. Rest. I can hear the quiet voice of God whispering. For whatever reason, I’m in this season where I let go of my job to embrace family and then fell in a hole. For whatever reason, I’ve been stilled. When I turned in my church keys, all I had left was a car key. Now, I don’t even have that.

Stilled. Humbled. Downsized. Key-less. Broken. Healing. Grateful. Peaceful.

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10  I still really like that verse.