Welcome to my musings...

After a 3 year hiatus from blogging (too busy parenting teens to have time to write about it!), I have decided to revive my blog. I look forward to sharing my perspective on mothering as I am at the tail end of my child-raising journey. Nothing could be more beautiful, more full of joy and pain and anguish, than the divine calling of motherhood. I pray my musings will bless you on your own journey, and that you will feel encouraged and equipped!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hope for Weary Moms

In my conversations with young moms, there seems to be a common theme…weariness. Sometimes these young women are so physically and emotionally fatigued that they feel hopeless. The days seem endless and the job impossible. They would trade anything for just one night’s uninterrupted sleep. If you feel that you just can’t go on one more day, then this blog is for you.

The good news is…you’re right where God wants you to be. Recognizing our weakness is the starting point of something amazing. You are absolutely right—you CAN’T do this, at least not in your own strength. Yes, being a full-time mom is hard work and often requires more of us than we have to give. But, we have to remember that we are not alone in this task. We have a heavenly Father who is waiting for us to turn to him and admit that we’re incapable. Then and only then can He equip us for this monumental task (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Sound trite? I suggest you try it. Get down on your knees and beg God to provide what you need to be successful at mothering. He delights in our openness and promises to give us strength when we are weary…and what mom isn’t weary? I remember a three-year period when I had only slept through the night a handful of times. Noah didn’t sleep through the night until he was 14 months old and a month later I became pregnant with Lexi. The entire pregnancy I was plagued with insomnia and then Lexi, too, failed to sleep through the night consistently until she was 14 months old (and yes, we tried every theory known to man). By the time this ended, my body had forgotten HOW to sleep through the night! I was falling asleep at stoplights (literally) and one of my friends said later that she was worried about me because it was like my personality had just disappeared in a fog of weariness. But the good news is…by God’s grace I survived, my children thrived, and now we ALL sleep through the night.

Feeling guilty over losing your temper with your child? We all lose our patience and fail in how we respond to our children. When this happens to you, be sure you go to your child in humility and admit your fault and apologize. In doing this, you are modeling repentance and teaching him how to act when he has wronged someone. Ask his forgiveness…you’ll be surprised how quick these little hearts are to forgive our failings.

Talk to God…constantly. I keep a running dialogue with Him all day long. When I’m feeling that temper rise, I go to God immediately (in silent prayer). I know He is only a breath away and I believe He is able to change me and my fleshly response. Also, talk to a friend…have someone you can call when you are losing it who will encourage you in the right way and pray with you. It’s not weakness to ask for help—it’s wisdom. Sometimes it’s the isolation of being a stay-at-home mom that causes us to be overwhelmed. We can feel as if we are all alone in a sea of dirty diapers, crusty dishes and sticky handprints. Having a support group is essential—many a lonely day is lifted by hanging out with another mom and her kids. One of my friends and I remind each other frequently (by phone, email or an encouraging note): “You’re doing the right thing.”

Finally, give yourself a break. As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. This monumental task of mothering will get easier and you’ll adjust. Don’t expect perfection. When you fail, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start anew, and remember “His mercies are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23). Be patient with yourself and let God mold you as you mold your children. I firmly believe He gives us children in order to refine our character. Keep in mind that, for now, your to-do list will never get done…and release yourself from the stress of a perfect house, gourmet dinners and perfectly groomed children. Let go of the fairy-tale and embrace the reality. If dinner is mac and cheese, but you took the time to snuggle and read that extra book to your toddler, then you have chosen what is best. Your kids won’t remember if your house was perfectly decorated or that you made Beef Wellington for dinner (they’d probably rather have hot dogs!), but they will remember if you were always too busy or stressed to enjoy them. And from my vantage point, the time goes much too quickly. For me, it isn’t that many years until my kids are grown and my house will stay clean when I clean it. For right now, I want them to know that they are far more important than any chore, and that I cherish the time I have with them. There will be plenty of time for those other things later…sometimes, you have to just give up on perfection so you don’t miss the gift of right now.

The most important thing I’ve learned in thriving as a mom is this: We have to let go of self. The most miserable moms I know are those who are clinging so tightly to their desires and dreams that they are missing the incredible gift God has given them in this role of motherhood. Yes, God has given you the many gifts and dreams that you hold in your heart, but that doesn’t mean He plans to fulfill them all right now. Trust Him to keep those dreams safe for you until the season is right to bring them to fruition. Right now, your most important task is to shape those little hearts to love their Creator…everything else can wait or take a backseat for now. God will bless you for giving those babies first priority…will you trust Him to take care of YOU while you take care of them?

Why did God give you this task if you feel incapable of doing it? He did this because He is capable of doing it…through you. He chose you, especially, to be the mommy of your children. He made you exactly the way He intended so you could be the one to lead your little ones to Him and to bring Him glory. He created your babies and chose you as the best mother for them. Isn’t that an awesome thought? Out of all the mommies he could have chosen…He chose you. Is being a 24/7 mother an arduous task? Oh my, yes. Is it impossible? Not with the God of the universe on your side. Will you persevere and let Him lead you, mold you, and make you into the mother He intended you to be?

My favorite verse when my children were small was this:

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

I kept this verse on the refrigerator, on the bathroom mirror and in my heart for those days when weariness overwhelmed me. Now that I’m farther down the road of raising my children, I am starting to reap that harvest, and I assure you, it is worth every sleepless night, every agonizing day when you feel like you just can’t go on one more minute. Let me give you a glimpse of life ten years down the road. I used to weary of bath time. With three children, it seemed like it took forever to get all three bathed and dressed for bed, with teeth brushed and prayers said. Now I say, “Go take showers and get ready for bed”…and they do. I used to weary of the endless dirty dishes…now I have willing helpers to unload the dishwasher or clean up after supper. I used to despair of ever being caught up with the laundry…now two out of three do their own. Cleaning house seemed like an impossible dream…now a weekly chore chart ensures the household tasks get done, and not all by me! Days used to be spent in endless discipline…now we go days at a time without an incident. I used to long for someone to talk to…now my oldest daughter is one of my dearest friends. School time was often an endless litany of “what do I do now, Mom?”…now my children are often up before me and busy at work on their own when I come downstairs. We’re seeing the fruit of faithful discipline, patient training and many, many hours of prayer, and it is absolutely priceless. I promise you, the reward will be worth the sacrifice and you won’t regret a moment of it…don’t give up.

God knows when you are weary, and He cares. He’s there with you, gently leading you, comforting you, and giving you strength. All you have to do is ask.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

God of the Trivial

There is a treasure in our house, something that is priceless to us. No, it isn’t a famous painting, or a piece of valuable jewelry, or an expensive sports car. As a matter of fact, if you saw this item, you might think it was destined for the donation bin at Goodwill or perhaps the trash heap. It doesn’t look like much, but it holds a special place in our family story and in the formation of a little girl’s faith.

When Molly, our oldest, was three years old, we were going through a time of major transition. We had recently decided to move from Colorado to Southern California for my husband’s job, and we were also expecting our second child. Our house was for sale and our plans were laid to make the move in a few months’ time. One weekend, we decided to take Molly to the Homecoming Parade at the Colorado State University campus. We loaded up the stroller and all of our first-child accoutrements (you travel much lighter with subsequent kids!) and headed downtown. Along for the ride was Molly’s special stuffed animal, the donkey from Winnie-the-Pooh. As those of you who are Pooh fans will doubtless know, his real name is Eeyore. In our family, however, he has long been known as “Dadoo”, dubbed by Molly as one of her first words. Somehow, the name stuck and we still catch ourselves calling Eeyore “Dadoo” and receiving strange looks from those outside the family. Dadoo was a gift to Molly from her daddy and I, and he has watched over her from her earliest days in the hospital crib. Dadoo went everywhere with Molly, from church to the grocery store to naptime to Grandma’s house. So, in typical Molly fashion, he also accompanied us this day to the parade.

Several hours later, we packed up to go home. The plan was to leave a very tired and pregnant Mom home to take a nap, while Daddy and Molly went to the football game (this arrangement made everyone happy!). Upon arriving home, however, as they were preparing to leave for the game, a little voice suddenly asked, “Where’s my Dadoo?” After a frantic search of the car, the stroller and the backpack did not turn up a certain little donkey, Molly began to cry in earnest. We tried to assure her that we would find him, but as our eyes met over the top of her head, our faces showed something near panic. We finally convinced Molly to leave for the game, assuring her that Mommy would go back to the campus and search high and low until Dadoo was found.

I raced back to campus and commenced searching. I walked every inch of the path we had taken…once, twice, three times. Tears began rolling down my cheeks as I silently conversed with God. “Please, Lord, Molly needs this donkey. She’s never slept a night without him in her whole life. Everything is changing, God…she’s leaving her home, her grandparents, adding a new baby to the family. Now is NOT the time to lose her security object. I’m such a terrible mother…I should have checked the stroller before we left. Please, God, please…let me find this silly donkey.” My stomach knotted and my heart sank as I searched everywhere, over and over again, with no success. I searched as long as I could until my pregnant body could walk no more. I drove home in tears, pleading with God for help in finding this very important donkey.

When my little girl raced into the house that evening, with hope shining in her eyes and said, “Where’s Dadoo, Mommy?”, it was all I could do to tell her that my search had been unsuccessful. I watched as her face fell, her eyes spilled over with tears and she collapsed in my arms. “What are we gonna do, Mommy? I can’t sleep without my Dadoo…Daddy, what if I never see him again?” I looked up at Alan and saw my own anguish reflected on his face. I never thought to see my husband almost at the point of tears over a lost stuffed toy, but his daughter’s pain was breaking his heart. We rocked and consoled her and then we gathered to pray. We pleaded with God to bring Dadoo home, and honestly, I didn’t feel silly at all bothering the Creator of the Universe with our seemingly insignificant request. I listened to Molly pour out her heart to God and I worried…what if God didn’t bring Dadoo home? What would that do to her sweet, childlike faith? We put her to bed and went to bed ourselves, completely depressed.

Over the next couple of days, I kept hearing a refrain in my head. We had recently been singing a song at church that came from Jeremiah 32 and said, “Is anything too difficult for Thee?” Instead of those words, I kept hearing “Is anything too trivial for Thee?” We prayed and we tried to comfort our inconsolable daughter and we finally came up with a wild idea…to put a classified ad in the newspaper. We knew it was a long shot. After all, who would possibly pick up such a ragged stuffed animal and then actually look in the “Lost” section of the newspaper? But we were desperate…our precious little girl was miserable, barely eating and crying herself to sleep each night. I picked up the phone to call the local paper, and as I began reading the ad to the woman on the other end of the phone, she suddenly interrupted me. Stumbling over her words in her excitement, she proceeded to tell me that she had just taken another call…from a woman placing an ad in the “Found” section. You guessed it—she had found Molly’s Dadoo and recognized it as well-loved, not ragged. We quickly called this woman and listened as she described finding Dadoo. She said, “I could tell it was really loved and just kept thinking about that child out there who was missing it.” She refused any reward and urged us to come right over and pick him up.

Molly’s joy at being reunited with Dadoo was matched by our joy in watching her. She was overcome with gratitude to God for “bringing Dadoo home” and kept saying, “He really did it…He really brought Dadoo home!” Our hearts were overwhelmed at the goodness of God—that He really cared about a sad little girl and her little lost donkey. None of us have ever forgotten that week or the faith lessons we learned. We know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that nothing is too trivial in the lives of His children, and that He even cares about ragged, stuffed donkeys named Dadoo.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

My Hero

Talk of heroes is in the air. With the Olympics being aired on TV every night and the news abounding with stories of gifted athletes who have worked and sacrificed to gain their prize, children and adults everywhere are captivated by those they consider to be heroes. Our family has enjoyed watching some of the Olympic events and has cheered for our country as the US athletes have competed to win the gold. While the things these athletes have accomplished are worthy of honor, I’d like to tell you about my real hero.

Today I held my mother’s hand and prayed with her as she entered the hospital to face surgery with a somewhat uncertain outcome. The doctors had strongly recommended a hysterectomy for her, due to the discovery of a polyp that was unreachable by less invasive surgery. Because of her history of cancer, they felt that leaving the polyp was not a safe option in case it, too, was cancerous. It was decided that a hysterectomy would be performed, and then a biopsy done while she was under the anesthesia. If the polyp were indeed cancerous, a cancer surgeon would be summoned to do further surgery to remove lymph nodes and other tissues to try and remove all the cancer. When Mom went to sleep, she did not know if she was facing a simple hysterectomy or the beginnings of another battle against cancer. Seven years earlier, my mother courageously battled breast cancer with more grace and serenity than I have ever seen. She came out on the other side of her cancer experience with an even deeper faith and a peace about the future, whatever it held. Her attitude became, “As long as God is in control, whatever happens will be okay.” Mom never wavered in her confidence that God is good and that she was safe in his hands.

Shortly after getting the all clear on her breast cancer, Mom took a terrible fall and broke her shoulder. This time she endured two painful surgeries and long recoveries, again without complaint. She worked hard at her physical therapy, in spite of the pain it caused her, and clung tightly to her belief that God uses all things for good. Instead of becoming bitter at her string of misfortunes, she persevered and praised God for all the good things He brought her, such as friends who loved and cared for her, and a continued clean report from the cancer doctor.

My whole life, my mother has been a shining example of a godly woman. The first time I heard the phrase “steel magnolia”, I knew it was talking about her. While she is a demure, sweet-spirited woman, don’t be fooled…there is a core of pure steel. Her strength is not about loudness or getting her own way, it’s about not being moved by the storms of life. It’s about never bending to evil, never giving up on those she loves, and never wavering from her faith in the One who made her. I hope someday my children will look on me with the respect and devotion I hold for her.

After an hour-and-a-half of surgery, the doctor came out to report that the news was all good. Once again, God has taken care of my mother and her surgery report was cancer-free. Once again, my beautiful mother has suffered pain without complaint. She is recovering at home now and counting the days until she can return to her normal routine of blessing others instead of being on the receiving end. If there is a gold medal for grace under fire, I’d like to nominate my mother.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Thanks, Mr. D.

Sitting here in my dining room on a Sunday afternoon, a bright yellow school bus just drove by my window. I can only guess it is a dry run for the big day tomorrow…the first day of school. Watching the bus drive by, only one emotion fills my heart…relief that my children won’t be on it. While my oldest daughter attended public school from kindergarten through fourth grade, and my middle son for kindergarten, we now choose to home educate our three children. We are entering our fifth year of our homeschooling journey, and every year it just becomes sweeter. I confess, I used to cry every year on the first day of school. After playing the part of a strong, encouraging mom and sending my kids off to their new classrooms with a smile and a hug, I’d make it to the car (or at least to the parking lot) and then the tears would roll. Pain would tug at my heart at the thought of the next nine months of sending my children away every day for six-and-a-half hours to be taught by someone else. Somehow, it never felt right to me.

Then came the day, at the end of our son’s kindergarten year, when my husband and I were invited to join our kindergarten teacher for a conference. We were expecting this to be a discussion of how to meet our gifted son’s academic needs in first-grade. Our oldest daughter, who is also academically gifted, had experienced a difficult first-grade year. While her teacher was a wonderful, Christian woman who loved our daughter, Molly was so far ahead of the mainstream students that she was, well….bored. This made her miserable and frustrated and not very pleasant to live with! (Sorry, Molly.) We hoped to avoid repeating this experience with our second child, so had requested to meet with his teacher and work out a plan for next year. Imagine our surprise when we entered this parent/teacher conference to find not just our teacher, but the principal, the literacy specialist and another teacher that we did not even know. We sat down in those ridiculously tiny chairs (do they hold conferences there just to put parents off-balance?) and listened as our teacher turned the conference over to first the literacy specialist and then the principal. We listened as the specialist gave the results of testing on our son, showing he was reading at a ninth grade level at the age of six. The principal carried on to explain to us that, although our school was known as the “academic” school in our town, it was not equipped to handle kids with such advanced abilities. We listened in disbelief and something akin to shock as Mr. D. went on to inform us that he believed we needed to homeschool our children.

Our immediate response to this was to question the other options. Wasn’t there a gifted school somewhere nearby who could educate our children? How about a Montessori school? They are supposed to be good for gifted children, right? How about a private school, with a smaller student/teacher ratio? As our principal quietly shot down each of these other options and reiterated that homeschooling was really our best option, we looked at each other in wide-eyed disbelief. To hear our public-school principal tell us that homeschooling was “best” for our children, and that indeed, he considered it the best form of education overall, was shocking. We left the room reeling, speechless, and profoundly confused. While we were familiar with homeschooling and had family and friends who had chosen to homeschool, we had never believed it to be what God wanted us to do with our children. We had a somewhat negative view of this method, due to the amount of pressure put on us by others before we even conceived our first child! We wanted our children to be a light in a dark place, and believed that school was that place. We loved the school we were a part of, and were actively involved in that school. Leaving it seemed unthinkable.

The next six weeks were amazing. We began praying about this decision and prayed for God to make it so blatantly clear to us that we couldn’t miss it. We also prayed that if homeschooling was what God desired, that He would change our hearts and attitudes about it. I can honestly say, I have never been more clearly answered in all my life. Everywhere we turned, God was holding up neon signs saying, “This is the path I have for you…trust me, and walk in it.” Every time we picked up the newspaper, it was another article about a public school shooting, or about homosexuality being taught in the schools, or about abstinence-based sex education being banned from the schools. Conversely, we saw many articles about the growth of the homeschooling movement and how successful these kids were academically. We saw test scores that put public schools to shame. Everywhere we went, we met homeschool parents willing to mentor us and share their experiences, in a positive way, not a judgmental one. We even drove six hundred miles to buy a car, because God apparently wanted us to meet a certain salesman who homeschooled his kids and knew the right words we needed to hear. (That’s a long story, but an amazing one). As the end of the school year approached, we knew the answer…while homeschooling may not be an option for everyone, God wanted US to homeschool, and He had completely changed our hearts and we were excited and ready to do this.

Our reasons for homeschooling that year were primarily to give our children a better education and to allow them to be challenged academically. Our reasons four years later have changed quite a bit. Now it is more about the fact that we are convicted that God wants us to disciple our children by teaching them at home and then sending them out to be “lights” in a dark world. The academic benefits are still important, just not the primary reason we continue homeschooling. The spiritual benefits have far surpassed any academic benefit, and the fruit we see in our children is the reason we continue. I can say without any doubt that it has been the best decision we have ever made for our family, and our children would agree. I thank God every day that He turned our hearts toward home and brought our children home, too. Is homeschooling hard work? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely. So now, when I see that yellow school bus go by, I smile and think, “Thanks, Mr. D.”

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Missing the Point

I am not a TV watcher. I very rarely watch anything on TV, much preferring to curl up with a good book instead. On rare occasion, however, usually when my husband is out of town on business and the kids are finally tucked up in bed, I will turn it on and flip through a few channels trying to find something worthy of my time. More often than not, after about five minutes of this, the TV is once again turned off and I return to my book. Every time I do watch TV, I am quickly reminded why we chose years ago to never allow cable TV into our home. There is plenty of mind-numbing, soul-polluting fare on the regular channels…why would I pay money to bring more of it into my home?

Tonight was one of those rare occasions when I turned on the set to check for weather updates after church was interrupted with a tornado warning. The devastating tornado that struck our little town a couple of months ago has made us a little more apt to take those warnings seriously, so I wanted to make sure it was safe to put the kids to bed upstairs and not in the basement. No weather reports were available, but the first few minutes of a show entitled “The Baby Borrowers” caught my attention. Apparently, several teen couples were given children of various ages to borrow and “parent” for a period of time, so they could see what parenting is really all about, in hopes of discouraging teen pregnancy. My first thought was, “You’ve got to be kidding…who in their right minds would allow their children to be used in such an experiment?!” This was evidently the final episode, with a panel of “experts” (and I use the term loosely!) evaluating the merits of this experiment and debating society’s issues with teen pregnancy. I found myself quickly moving from interest to disbelief to intense frustration as I listened to the debate.

While I am sure that parenting children full-time was a great deterrent for these particular teenagers, I couldn’t help but feel the adults were entirely missing the point. The debate ranged from whether the new teen flick “Juno” is affecting girls’ views of being mothers at a young age as a positive thing to whether or not Hollywood (a la Jamie Lynn Spears) is influencing teen girls to want to be pregnant and to view it as glamorous. While I have not seen the movie, nor do I follow the life of the Spears family, I definitely disagree with the conclusions of the “experts”. They applauded “Juno” as a positive example of a girl who handles an unexpected pregnancy with maturity and stated that teens were mature enough to know the difference between fiction and real life. Again, I believe they are missing the entire point. While offering effective birth control was discussed, the value of purity was glaringly absent. Nowhere was it discussed that this would not even be an issue if our children were taught to follow God’s plan for sex to be a beautiful expression of married love. So here we have a television show with unmarried teen couples placed in a living situation with children, and from several scenes, apparently sharing a bedroom. Hello?!! Am I the only one that sees the irony here?

I believe our downward spiral into the morally decadent society we have today has definitely been influenced by Hollywood and what our children are exposed to every day. But is it completely Hollywood’s fault that so many babies are born to unwed parents or aborted every year? You might be surprised by my answer here, but…no. Who is responsible for letting our children watch these television shows or movies that depict teen sexual activity as normal? Who is responsible for buying the clothes that outfit our little girls as tramps? Who is responsible for accepting the world’s message that our children should be oversexed, irresponsible and unable to control their impulses? I can only answer that we, as parents, are the gatekeepers of our children’s hearts. If we have allowed the world to come into our homes, whether it is via television or movies or music or advertising and done nothing to teach our children to discern right from wrong, then we are the ones responsible. I beg you as mothers and fathers, stand up and refuse to be sucked into the moral cesspool our world has created. Don’t buy those outfits for your six-year-old whose intent is to make her look “sexy”. Don’t accept the pre-teen “role models” that pervade our society and masquerade as wholesome when they are anything but wholesome. The problem of teen pregnancy starts way before the teen years. Walk into any department store and survey the clothes offered in the children’s section. Read the books being offered to them as good literature at school. Open your eyes before it’s too late…and don’t be afraid to be unpopular and say that dreaded word…“No”. Have the wisdom to set your own standards and the courage to abide by them instead of blindly accepting what society says is “normal”. Hollywood only dishes out what sells…are you buying? In our house, we choose to let God set the standards, not some group of people who only want one thing…your money.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Lifting the Veil

Every so often, we have one of those moments when we get a glimpse of something just beyond the pale, something so other-worldly that we know it can’t be part of this realm. Just for a moment, we catch sight of something that our limited minds just can’t quite grasp, like the whisper of a butterfly’s wings slipping through our fingers. It teases the edges of our minds, taunting us with its beauty and grace, yet dissipating like a fog that burns away in the morning sun. One of my favorite Christian authors calls these moments “windows of the soul”. I think of it as a lifting of the veil.

When our oldest daughter was about three years old, we attended a baptism. Molly was very quiet throughout the preliminaries, with big brown eyes solemnly taking it all in. Suddenly, just as the person was raised up out of the water, she threw her hands to the sky and exclaimed, “Mommy, look! Do you see them? They’re playing banjos!” She pointed excitedly at the air above the baptistry and continued to describe what she was seeing, while we looked stupidly at the empty space and questioningly at each other. Later, after she was safely tucked in her bed, my husband and I began to hesitantly question each other. “Did you see anything?” “You don’t think it could have been…well, angels?” “And banjos? Do you really think they play banjos?” It just didn’t fit with our conservative, somewhat stodgy church upbringing, yet we couldn’t deny the absolute rapture on the face of our precious daughter.

When our middle child, our son, was also about three years old, we took a vacation to California with the grandparents to introduce our children to the wonders of the ocean and, of course, Disneyland. Unfortunately, that vacation will go down in family lore as the vacation from, well, you-know-where. Noah had come down with croup in the days just before we departed, and coupled with his severe asthma, the vacation began with a 4 am nebulizer treatment to restore his breathing. The plane trip was a disaster, with him crouping and gasping the entire trip, and making frequent use of the so-thoughtfully-provided waste bag. Our accommodations turned out to be not quite the lovely seaside rental house that was pictured on the Internet, but a filthy, run-down shack on the beach, complete with 2nd story windows with no screens to prevent our 3 small children from tumbling to the ground (and no air conditioning, of course). At some point during our week, we ended up making a late-night, panicked trek across San Diego to the Children’s Hospital with our barely-breathing son. We spent the entire night in the Emergency Room, finally heading home late the next morning. Within about 15 minutes of arriving back at our beach house, we were hurriedly rushing him back to the hospital, where he endured more breathing treatments, steroid shots and x-rays until he finally fell sound asleep on the table while they poked and prodded. We finished out the week, managing (barely) to take Noah to his long-anticipated Legoland, and then headed home with great sighs of relief. My mother earned my life-long awe with her simple statement, “It was a wonderful vacation, honey. Thanks for taking us!”

A few days later, after we had settled back into life in sunny Colorado, I was sitting with Noah after administering yet another nebulizer treatment. He looked up at me with his sweet, cherubic face and asked, “Mama, when I go to heaven, will I get sick anymore?” I swallowed hard and answered, “No, honey…in heaven you’ll never be sick again.” He thought for a moment and then continued, “Mama, in heaven will I cough anymore?” I assured him that Jesus would certainly take away all his coughing, too. Next came, “Mama,” (every sentence started with Mama in those days!), “do you know what the best thing about heaven is going to be?” I smoothed his blonde hair away from his big brown eyes and said, “What, honey?”, fully expecting the answer to be something like, “I won’t be sick anymore” or “You won’t tell me not to run” (since running always made him cough). Instead, he looked up at me with wonder in his eyes and said, “I’m gonna get to see Jesus’ face.” I could not speak around the lump in my throat and the wonder in my soul as the veil lifted and I got a glimpse of heaven, provided by my three-year-old son.

Several years later, I sat beside my youngest daughter, Lexi, who was looking at a picture story Bible. She gave several deep sighs and glanced up at me with a troubled expression. When I questioned her, she turned to me and with tears rolling down her cheeks, she said, “Look, Mommy. Look what they did to him.” She showed me the page where she was sadly studying a picture of Jesus on the cross and then threw herself in my arms and sobbed. My heart was touched with wonder as, again, the veil lifted and Jesus showed himself to me through the eyes of a child. My heart was pierced as I realized anew the magnitude of the gift given for me.

One of the most recent moments came at the funeral of my beloved grandmother last year. One of the most difficult things I’ve ever done was to sing at her funeral, yet I knew that she would have loved having her family honor her in such a way. She was one of the most precious people in the world to me, and her passing left a hole in my heart the size of Texas. As we sang the beautiful song “Come to Jesus”, our daughter, Molly, came out all dressed in white and performed a worship dance. Again, the world seemed to tilt a little as I felt transported, and instead of just one lone dancer, my mind imagined a whole company of angels dancing as they welcomed my grandmother home. We sang the final verse, “And with your final heartbeat /Kiss the world goodbye / Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory's side, and / Fly to Jesus / Fly to Jesus / Fly to Jesus and live!” The tears coursed down my face, but my heart exulted in knowing that she was finally free from the misery of illness and aging, and that she was safe in Jesus’ arms.

Now I don’t know if angels really play banjos, but I do know this…Jesus will return someday and that veil will be lifted one last time. Only, this time, it will stay lifted, and we will see things that we are incapable of even imagining now. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait.