Childlike

Maisy Rae

(My granddaughter’s Mama is a professional photographer! kianagrantphotography.com)

Lately I’ve had children on my mind, and it’s no wonder. Of course, there’s a wee bit of obsession with being a Nana, and my baby girl Maisy, and oh, by the way – can I show you a picture? I’ve got a couple. Dozen. Right here on my phone.

It doesn’t hurt to have kids, now parents, who’ve made a career of taking photos, and Kiana asked in a text the other day if she was sending too many. Too many?! Absurd. So. My apologies to the viewing public, but you can blame Pops and Nana if your social media feeds are all-about-Maisy for the next eighteen or so years.

So I’m thinking about children, and the truth of it is, this whole thing started a few weeks back. Not only inspired by a baby-to-be, but by a book I’d been reading. And it wasn’t a childlike book at all, which is sort of the point. It was, in fact, quite strictly adult. A thinking book, recommended by Luke, my almost constantly noodling son. We like to think together, the boy and me, and so a month or so ago, right around the time of his engagement – in fact, the very same weekend – I was at a coffee shop in downtown Denver, when I started reading. And I won’t go into detail about the particulars except to say – it got me thinking. About kids and FAITH.

The faith of a child. You see, the author of this book (the one I haven’t exactly mentioned) was asking some really hard questions about how we as Christians read the Bible. Which are fair questions to ask. And he did a stellar job of answering those questions with some Really. Deep. Thoughts. No doubt about that. Except. It occurred to me, somewhere around halfway through this scholarly exposition – a kid would never think like this.

No. A kid would think thoughts more like Diane’s. Again, my apologies. I know this post is all over the place, but let me explain. Along with books and babies, I’ve been thinking a lot about a favorite neighbor. My faith role model – is how I described her at staff prayer a couple of weeks ago when I made my request. The oldest member of our neighborhood Bible study, and no one I know has such childlike faith. My heart is heavy, thinking about how the beautiful house just down from me and across the street will never be the same without the bright yellow flash of Diane heading to Mass early mornings on her beloved bike. And – has anyone told you God loves you today?! Her predictable greeting, and I find myself praying this ugly Alzheimer’s will not put a dent in such child-deep faith, now blessing the residents of the nursing home at Johanna Shores Assisted Living.

It was Diane’s words running through my head the day our grandbaby entered the world. A happy, holy, healthy baby. Thank you friend, for sharing your prayer, and two days later when the NICU happened, I could hear your proverb like you were standing right here. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

It’s the thing I want most for little Maisy. The thing I described in the note tucked into those baby bows and lacy slippers, and the soft stuffed owl. My dream for you is this childlike faith. Faith like your Mama’s, and your Nana’s, too. I wrote this down, and I told this story. How I met Kiana when she was a child, and from the first I knew the heart of a kindred spirit, never knowing she’d be my daughter. The eleven-year-old girl was so much like me, a child of faith. And of course, it’s the years that test it, refine the gold, and prove the heart. So I shake my head, remembering, knowing. How many times lately have I said it this way? My daughter-in-law is truly amazing, gifts and talents too many to count. But her best thing by far is how she loves Jesus with purest sweet faith.

Last week was a whirlwind with baby coming before we were quite ready, and Luke and Ali here briefly, attending a wedding, no time for discussing a heady book. Someday, maybe, mom and son will have the chance to ponder together these weighty matters, and yet. What I really want. More than anything else. For my son, and for me, and for all of us, too. Is THIS. This childlike faith.

At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.”
Luke 10:21

 

Note: For those who are curious, the book I’ve been reading is Gregory Boyd’s Cross Vision: How the Crucifixion of Jesus Makes Sense of the Old Testament.

Girl-Grandma (:

Meeting Maisy

It’s a GIRL!!!! Our little Maisy Rae, born last week, and what does this mean for a boy-mom Grandma?!!

Nana, that is. And I’m telling you what. Since last Wednesday, I’m seeing them all over the place. At the craft store, and at Target, and there on the street. Pigtails wagging, and non-stop chatter, holding hands. Little girls with their grandmas are EVERYWHERE. Like how you get a new car and then everyone has one – but a million times better. This new-grandma thing. And did I mention, a girl?

Felipe likes to remind us, he had the dream first. A nighttime dream of a girl baby and he was convinced. So convinced, there were family members hoping for a boy just to prove the boy wrong. And I don’t remember the timing, if it was before or after, but I dreamed, too. A humorous dream, and I didn’t dare say it could mean anything, but now I wonder. I’d given birth to a baby girl, but there wasn’t pain. And I knew in my dream this painless birth was my grandbaby girl.

I described it this way to Kiana yesterday, in the hospital room. And she laughed a bit, though she felt like crying, day five on this rollercoaster of every emotion. And let’s just say there’s been plenty of pain, and there’ll be pain still, which is just how it is for a first-time mama. It’ll be so much better when you can finally go home. And it will be, no doubt. There’ll be beds, at least, even if sleep is short with those nighttime feedings. But it will be worth it. Finally at home with your sweet little Maisy, and you’ll be amazing, I know you will.

And you should see my SON. Holy-oh-my-goodness, they told me this would happen, but it’s still unexpected. How seeing my own boy, a daddy, in love with his daughter, rocking this whole thing and my son is a father! And what I’ve been predicting all these years is totally true. Of all the myriad things my own husband does well, he does fathering best, and Grant’s going to grow up to be just like you. And it’s true already. Except that my son gets to daddy a GIRL!!

This boy-mom clan, and our girl-count is rising. Earlier this weekend, before our trip to Des Moines, we spent two sweet days with Luke and Ali, here for a wedding. Friday morning, they rolled in exhausted from their own sleepless night. Working at camp and a 5am flight, booked by my husband, and as soon as they got here, I suggested a nap. Later in the evening I spotted Ali, ready to head out for the groom’s dinner with Luke. What a pretty dress. I made my comment, and she tells me about how when she was little, she’d shop with her grandma, and this was a dress we picked out together. And I’m shaking my head at this new common thread.

Last night late, we drove back from Iowa, our own kind of exhausted. Starting our day at 3am, dropping kids at the airport for a pre-dawn flight back to Colorado. Church at Revision, and the NICU with Maisy, a day with our kids, then turning around and heading back home. And I was aware, my husband sound asleep in the passenger seat, and me driving, not yet tired, high on love. Aware of my son and his wife, sleeping on a recliner, and a too-short sofa. Waking on schedule to feed little Maisy. Monitors beeping and too many nurses coming and going. And me heading home to my own quiet bed. Remembering a dream. A girl-baby without any pain. And I’m thinking, this must really be a dream-come-true. None of the pain, and all of the love, and I guess this is what it’s like to become a Nana (:

Field Trip

Driving with Maple

It’s World Cup time and I wowed my boys at dinner the other night with my soccer knowledge. I mean I knew stuff. Like Iceland made the tournament for the first time ever, and Italy, who always makes it, didn’t. I could rattle off the favorites; could tell you about how Messi’s arguably the best of all time, even though he chokes when he plays with his national team. And Ozil is a hot German star with a bad attitude. I’m telling you, I knew stuff. After a while Felipe and Jimmy were exchanging looks, and Nils asked the question. “Mom, how do you know all this?” Nonchalant, I answered. “A podcast I listened to while I was knitting last night.”*

It was priceless.

I’ve recently jumped on the podcast bandwagon. Partly due to recommendations, and partly looking for company on my morning runs. (My schedule doesn’t seem to be syncing with my running buddy, Cheryl’s.) And so it is, I’ve been spending time with online voices, some familiar, some brand-new.

This past week I was listening to my old friend, Mike Howard, surprised when I heard him mention my name. One of his favorite bloggers – that’s how he said it. And I’m still shaking my head, thinking of all the brainy writers I know this guy follows, and me telling stories about being a mom, and Wow! Thanks, friend, for the shout-out blessing.

The silver bullet. This was the phrase Pastor Mike referenced in his #FORIOWA sermon, talking about love. It’s something I’d written when I told Luke’s story about his proposal, the same week I’d made my comment at our all-staff meeting. And what Mike doesn’t know is how this off-hand remark has been an epiphany of sorts in my current season. This silver-bullet love.

There’s another podcast pastor, and he’s been saying the same thing.** I tried to explain it to Kyle on Saturday, making our rounds to graduation parties. Just the two of us on a daylong date, and this seemed like a good time to process out loud the things I’ve been pondering these past few weeks. There’s life in the flesh, and there’s the life of His Spirit, and we can always choose. I tell my husband about how there seems to be this litmus test, this way of knowing which way we’re leaning, and for me, it’s love. My flesh self-protects; it’s easily offended. But not the Spirit. The Spirit loves.

We’re driving down the road, and I’m feeling this passion. It’s just like He taught me, there in His classroom, all those years! And Kyle knows what I’m saying, since he’s been there with me. God’s Seminary teaching, and me filling journals with what it means to live the life of the Spirit. He makes us holy, and His holy is real! His holy loves.

But those journals, they only tell part of the story. They tell the part about the classroom. God teaching, me ravenous, learning. Believing. But there’s more to the story, and no one knows better than my better-half. We’ve been on a field-trip. I tell it this way, remembering Beth Moore saying the same in a video study. Back during those sweet days of learning, I’d always wondered. Will this hold true when it’s put to the test? Will the Spirit be faithful?

And I have to confess. I’ve done some serious self-protecting; without question, times I’ve been offended. It’s true. I’ve said it out loud, but not until lately have I known what it means. Those field-trip days tested my love, my life in the Spirit. True enough. It was hard. And most days, truth-be-told, I slipped back to the flesh. I did. I’m confessing. But guess what? HE DIDN’T!! Don’t you see?!

I’m looking at Kyle and my heart is pounding. This whole time, even on days we didn’t feel like loving, even those times when we felt offended – He was still loving THROUGH US! And this, for me, is the epiphany moment. This looking back and seeing Him faithful, not just in Himself, but faithful in us. When our own flesh was weak – He still led us to love!

There’s life in the flesh, and there’s the life of His Spirit, and we can always choose. And this is the thing I share with my husband. Because it really does matter. It matters in us, in the depths of OUR spirits. Why live offended, if we don’t really have to? Yes, it’s true, He still will be faithful. But when I live in His Spirit, it’s ME who gets love.

 

*That Sounds Fun with Annie F. Downs
**Dan Mohler on Knowing the Heart of the Father

The Plan

Brothers at Jimmy's Prom

We were three of us in the Jeep when Jimmy wondered out loud. Why don’t we just build that house now? He’d been up at the lake with a posse of friends, tubing and swimming and eating Arby’s from the back of the truck. There’s NOTHING up here. He’s not one for a wilderness adventure. I explained about selling one house before affording another, and how it might take a couple of years. Well, what about us? I knew his meaning. Selling one, and building another, and the time in between, and what does it mean for boys in limbo? I chose my answer to cast a vision. “You’ll be in college, and Felipe’ll be adulting.” It worked.

The minute we arrived home they pinned Dad down for more information. But what about this? And how about that? These boys have seen just enough earth-shaking change in their lives to be highly suspicious. They need a plan.

This week’s plan was a trip with Felipe to Minneapolis Community to enroll in classes. Step two toward adulting. One year post-high-school full-time working. The next two years at a local college. And then he plans to take flight. Florida bound, to a university, or so he’s saying. And if there’s one thing I do know about this particular son, when he makes up his mind the deal’s usually done.

In other news, Jimmy and Sidney are officially dating. Our youngest Casanova somehow managed to muster the courage to have the talk with his high school gym teacher – said girl’s father. And lived to tell (: Which means there’s another female hanging out at our dinner table – and also means boys putting on airs resembling manners, and I must say, I’m a fan. Last night we ate “almost Colombian” out on the deck, while Sidney explained to Jimmy the finer points of how homework in high school prepares you for college, and I’m sitting there listening, eyebrows-raised thankful.

(Side note. I am delighted to report the new chickpea recipe I served for dinner was a HIT! Served with a side of fried plantains, devoured by boys, although I’m pretty sure Sidney was just being polite.)

It’s summer again and life is NORMAL. And I’m sure you can’t really appreciate how absolutely wonderful plain old everyday normal really is unless you’ve been through a good long season of anything but. Which is why, I’m sure, boys are reluctant to switch things up. We’ve finally got to where life has rhythm. School’s out, and jobs have started, same as last year. My mornings begin on my favorite front porch, just like they have the past decade or two. Every day Felipe walks past as he heads to his car, and each day I greet him. Have a good day. Every time he answers with his same sarcastic one-word, “Why?” Except yesterday morning, and this one, too, he greeted me nicely. Glanced over his shoulder to make sure I noticed. Not normal. And yet.

Last night Felipe and I ran errands together, stopped at Smashburger to enjoy a meal, just us two. And like earlier this week at the Community College, I couldn’t help but wonder. Who do the people think we are, sitting here together – this son and me? Not that it matters, but it does make me grin. Our normal is not.

And this, I guess, is our plan for this season. To embrace our own very unique sort of normal, and to do what we’re doing. To enjoy the moments, and to keep on praying, paying attention to how God is moving, to how He is faithful. Loving each other and being a family. One day at time. For today. That’s our plan.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:33-34