Raising Fools in Love

Night after night, she wants the same story read.  I’m anxious to reach the end and kiss good night. I don’t always enter into what I’m reading, but she is entranced.

Bear
 
A recent favorite is about a group of friends:  bear, mouse, and mole; raven, rabbit, and wren.  They play together, hunt strawberries together, and cuddle up to sleep.
 
Another is a little girl day-dreaming.  In her own garden “there would be no weeds” and the flowers would “never die.”  Anything would grow.  The fruit of her labor would be abundant and large (except for carrots which she hates).

In my garden
Garden 2
 
My children listen, not batting an eye.  When I am present, I remember what these stories are really saying.  They are beckoning to their imaginations of an ideal life; whispering a reality we’ve lost and must, for now, imagine.  
 
So when I’m there in my heart and not 15 minutes into the future when the house is quiet, I tell them why they love these tales.  I tell them what once was, . . . 

“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” . . .

and I tell them what will be . . . 
 
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
    and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
    and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze;
    their young shall lie down together;
    and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,
and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
Isaiah 11:6-8
 
Creation will be renewed and weeds will be legend.  We will be friends with creatures, perhaps cuddling for naps or hunting for strawberries on their backs.  

Bear 3
 
Children are supposed to grow up, leaving childish ways behind.  I’m not sure what all those ways are, but being a fool in love with the hope of paradise lost again being found is not one of them.  

The Most Powerful Writing

A picture flashed in my mind one recent day.  It was my stack of journals.  Until late, I never thought of them as a discipline.  They were a tool to extract my thoughts, my frustrations, even my joys.  All the days I feared the future, felt I was a bother to God, should get it together already, are written and collected.  They are the journey of a heart poured out.

Journals

I scratched out prayers, my head down low to see the pages, but also from frustration in coming with the same struggle day after day.  Parenting was hard.  I worried about the future.  I saw hardness and rebellion in a tiny soul and desired to lead her well.  I begged with my pen,

“Let me, let us, do this well.  Guard her heart, keep it.  Help me greet her today with a smile and be patient to correct when she disobeys, fights, and argues.  Let me not drive her away, but lead her to You.”

It’s been over a decade now and suddenly I’m seeing gentleness where I didn’t before.  A desire to know God and love Him has grown.  She expresses thanks in place of entitlement, and I smile at how she is gifted where I am not.  My eyes are opening too see the change.  How she got so tall and stopped fitting in my lap without hurting my legs, is a marvel.  How beauty has sprung up in a place I was expecting dry ground is more so to be pondered.

Her cells multiplied daily, unnoticed before my eyes.  My prayers multiplied just as fast, growing both of our hearts in secret.

Morning Prayers

I thought it was just me; this need to document words, a necessity to keep my focus from the air.  It was that, but the day in and day out of crying through ink and pleading through secret pages was my part in His work.  I believed and clung to see what would come of it.   More life is ahead, and more prayers on which will hang.  Most of all, I’ve learned I can smile at the future.

A discipline born out of need, I’ve decided to continue scratching this messy heart into quiet words, eyes down as they practice looking at hope.  In hope we pray and plead, in hope we anticipate.  In hindsight we see and rejoice, we sigh relief.

Would He have done it anyway?  Perhaps and probably so; I am joining Him, not the other way around.  Would I have seen it?  I’m not quite sure.  I forget too soon what I have asked of Him.  For the remembrance and the joy of saying, with a smile in the future, “For this I prayed,” I keep scribbling.

Spines

For when my deepest parts occupy a small notebook, closed and dark by 7am, they transcend time and space and sits before the face of God, the Lover of my soul, the Master of shaping hearts.

When Life Won’t Go Straight

I met my dad for breakfast and told him it’s no fun to be a grown-up.

The girls had given the dog a bath the night before which ended with three laughing, naked little people erupting from the bathroom,
the dog dripping behind them,
the bath full of brown water,
and the floor wet enough to float a small boat.

From the sounds wafting down the staircase, I knew it could be messy, but I chose to leave them to themselves.  I tried to keep smiling as I discovered the flooding, but frustration found its way like a shaken up soda.  Claire cried, “Mom, we were just having fun, why do you get mad?”

Crooked Stick

Over eggs, my dad says getting in trouble is part of being a kid.  I suppose, but I can’t stand it.  Feels like I say no more than yes.  My attempts to let go and let them have fun end with me acting like dry woodwork is more important than laughter.

I can reprimand myself for not being present when bathing the beast or for being surprised when child’s play turns chaotic.  Most of all, I chastise myself for not carrying out perfectly all I’ve read about parenting, an impossible ideal.  It’s all my fault in the end for letting it happen.

What’s happened before will happen again; the kids will play and find fun where their delight leads them and I will guide them out of childish places, trying not fizz over, but the fizz will come again.  It’s a serious job to preserve child-likeness and that’s where I tremble.  Somehow in the middle of it all, I should roll with things a little more.

The ancient King Solomon who sought all wisdom rightly declared, “What is crooked cannot be straightened, and what is lacking cannot be counted.”**

Crooked Games

Life is like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube, untangling a slinky, or holding pudding in your hand.  Sometimes even in trivial moments, the frustration can heave a person into despair.  Where’s the hope?  Why strive once more?  I’m a crooked tool trying to shape crooked souls.

I cannot make myself straight though I try.  Nor can I pass on what I don’t have; a child-like spirit, a patient heart.  What can you do when a crooked thing just won’t go straight; not a thing will just stay in its place?  How do you keep standing, keep trying?

Later, over dirty dishes, I find strength to smile.  The more I bend my mind to it I perceive that while things finally straightening is still on the horizon, He is at work trimming my soul.  I’m watching the crookedness in and around me and keep going because there’s a promise for the terrain of my heart.  It will be made new.  It will be smoothed out.  Things will have their place, darkness will have none, and I will truly be like a child.

I will bring the blind by a way they did not know;
I will lead them in paths they have not known.
I will make darkness light before them,
And crooked places straight.
These things I will do for them,
And not forsake them.
Isaiah 42:15-17

**Ecclesiastes 1:15