Wednesday, February 23, 2011

grace covers, like snow

A few Sundays ago, I routinely strapped the boys into their car seats. All was ready and packed for church (there is much to pack when you have two boys in diapers). It was then I realized the apartment key was no longer in my coat pocket. My heart sank as I looked at the ground.

The key was buried under the snow. I was (almost) certain of it. I knew I had a few minutes before Hans came downstairs, so I began my futile search. Hans looked with me when he came and --


The time was up. We had to go. Hans opened the door for me as he always does, and I reluctantly climbed in the car knowing we were leaving our apartment key out in the snow. Hidden, maybe, but still...

If I were two, I would be wailing.

As Hans got in his seat, he placed a gleaming key in my palm, "We can be thankful for God's grace," he said, "It was just laying there. I wasn't even looking anymore."

Relieved. Hugely relieved.

When we reached our first stoplight, he said, "It would still be God's grace even if we had found it while we were searching."

As a new mom, I received a lot of advice. And I welcomed them, and even sought after them at first, because I was unsure about many things and desperate for some answers.

What to do and what not to do? What to feed and when and how much and how do you know? I need to be sure about this. I don't want to break him. I can't mess this up.

I search for methods, only the perfect and bests, hoping that they would give me that (false) sense of control that I crave so badly. When something works, I pat myself on the back, feeling smug for having figured everything out. When something does not work, I fall into guilt and despair. What did I do wrong? Why is it not working? Please explain. Trenches on either sides are deadly.

Methods are certainly not bad. By all means, we should educate ourselves. Not all methods are created equal. Some are definitely better, wiser than others. Some are just plain wrong.

The point is this: No matter what method I may choose (or other people may choose) -- grace makes the garden grow.

Every little finger and every little toe, every teeth, every eyelash, every nap (even the short ones), the roundness of every cheek, every squeal -- shouts Glory to the Maker, who holds all of us in the palm of his hand.

As I changed Yohanan's diaper this morning, I was relieved to see that his rash was nearly gone. Finally, after all that hard work! Weeks of applying medicine... I then caught myself. There I go again. Self-righteousness and ingratitude are ever at work within me, never too far away.

I do not heal broken skin. God does.

When I come to the edge of my limitations,
sleep deprived
from waking up the fifth time,
patience running dry
from repeating myself for the sixth time,
when my best attempts yield no fruit --
his grace is sufficient for me,
for all of us.

We are covered
by the grace of him
who gives long sleep and white snow.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Tucked away

When Emeth was an infant, I religiously kept track of his milestones (first smile, first time sitting up, etc). I even kept a blog for this purpose. My better sense restrained me from comparing Emeth to other babies. I really did not want to be that mom. However, despite my effort, I found myself competing against imaginary babies -- the growth and milestone chart!

I was recording things like when he began to "balance his head" or whether is he is "interested in his reflection in the mirror." I was testing him to check when he was able to "coordinate his eyes in a circle" and whether he knows how to "communicate his expectations." Just so I can check these things off The List. I remember being so surprised (sometimes with a gasp) by moms when they tell me they had forgotten when their children said their first word or when they took their first step.

It was all very silly. I repent from my former ways.

As Emeth grew and as we were getting to know this little person, I realized that really, my focus should be on the things of the heart. If I tell him that being patient, kind, and joyful is better than being smart and talented, but cheer and record more of the latter-- he is able to tell what is truly important to mommy.

So, when Yohanan came around. I made a mental note not to repeat the crazy-mom act and did not keep track of his milestones at all (I know, I am all about the extremes). I do, however, remember when his first tooth emerged the day he turned four-months-old.

All of this is a long disclaimer for what I want to share today, because today is a big milestone kind of day. I want to tuck these away for safe keeping, you know, in case I forget.

Milestone # 1
We officially began our OPT (Operation Potty Training). All systems were ready and we launched. It was so much fun, with lots of treats and celebrations and laughter. Emeth was a Big Deal today.

Milestone # 2
Yohanan must have noticed the festivities, because he stood on his feet for the first time--without support. Just for a second, but still. He was giggling with glee.
Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought I just gave birth? How can he already be standing?

While I am on a roll, I might as well throw in a few fun Emethese words. As his vocabulary is expanding, I find myself having to ask him to repeat himself more often. I am catching up slowly, I think.  He has been a very patient teacher. 

Baytoh -- Beethoven
Comph-ble -- comfortable 
Ductor ducting -- conductor conducting
Hetitopter -- helicopter 
Oh-be-dow -- oil pastel (this took a while to figure out)
W and C or WC -- Debussy