mothers' day blues

I sit on Stacie's porch and enjoy the quiet and beautiful North Carolina nature show. I will sorely miss this quiet-time spot when I go home in a few days. This is a foretaste of heaven. I'm so thankful for the reprieve from real life.

It's Mothers' Day. I'm thankful for all the mothers who have positively influenced the way I mother. Mama! I'm thankful for the hurdles she overcame and/or at least wrestled, to bring us up with values, conviction, humor, work ethic, warmth and smiles. She taught us manners which I didn't really appreciate until more recently. She modeled prayer and Bible reading and it was a powerful model and I'm grateful. Now I'm ear deep in raising teenagers and appreciate Mama's efforts more.

Mama reading to us
Mama reading to us, 1971 or '72

I am so disillusioned with motherhood. I want my kids to know my deep love for them. Gordon has told me a number of times that they don't feel I love/like them. It's a preposterous notion. I hope it's his idea and not theirs. My kids have all taught me special things and I adore each one in a different way. They're all so different and bless me in different ways. I'm thankful for the variety.

Stephanie's birth shocked my "old man" to death and brought forth the bones of this "new man," new creation. I'll ever marvel and be grateful for the profound spiritual awakening God brought to me through her warm, pink little body.

Full bodied and quite upset after the birth ordeal, Christopher was precious and sweet. I was shocked yet again by the intensity of this love called motherhood! I was a great mom to Christopher those first four years and when I saw him over the years after that. But as I only realized in the past six or seven years, he felt abandoned by me when I lost custody of him. Will this pain, his or mine, ever subside? Probably not in this life. Something about fallen man, sin nature, imperfect world . . . I get it. I just wish it were different. I wish he could know the intensity of my love. It's still there.

I'm thankful God let me be a mom. I tried so hard, put my heart and soul into it and it seems I've failed on every front. Deborah is an absolute mess. Rachael and Hannah have thrown all our values away. I feel like an incredible failure as a mom and I'm so puzzled why it went so wrong. I sought hard after God. I read parenting books, took parenting courses; prayed, taught them Scripture and applied the principles therein, homeschooled. Why is it all so f----- up? I don't understand and it hurts so, so badly. I expected to be so proud of my girls' choices at this time in life. I expected them to be pure, making good choices, etc. 

Mothers' Day. I know this will pass. But today all I'm thinking is how all my mothering seems to have gone awry and I'm confused and disillusioned. Maybe someday it will all make better sense. Today is not that day.


emergency room talk

Val and chris (My sweet boy Christopher and me, 2009)

Deborah and I are going to Arkansas for a couple weeks in September. We are excited. Deborah hasn't been for six years and she has a real spring in her step since learning she's going. We are very happy.

One night on my last trip down we shared emergency room stories, two having worked in the ER. It was this evening that I learned that sniffing silver paint can give a man an erection that WILL NOT go away no matter how he tries to turn it off. "It" turns black and the erect guy screams in pain for over 24 hours. (What do you talk about over dessert in your family?) As we heard about this horror, pain and the shots that our blessed nurse had to give "it", we were sobered and momentarily speechless.

Silence was broken when John Mark flatly said: "That would be so demoralizing." 

Christopher, pretending to be the afflicted and NOT demoralized, jumped off the sofa, pointed down there and yelled, "You kidding me? I get so hard I need shots to GET IT DOWN."


christopher is 21 today

Today my young son turns 21. It seems a fitting day to re-post what I wrote about him when he turned 17.
 

originally published February 20, 2006

Today is my only son's 17th birthday. Everyone should have someone in their life like Christopher. He brings delight and joy wherever he is. He weighed 9.3 when he was born; a chunky, beautiful, fair-skinned bundle of love. For the first few hours he was naked because the nurses couldn't find a "hospital-issue" sleeper big enough for him. Dr Mesko gave the babies he delivered a t-shirt that read "Delivered with Love by Dr. Mesko." From Christopher's first breath, he was too big for that t-shirt. (But I still have it.)

He was a very contented baby who slept lots, was pleasant when he was awake, was easily entertained, and who smiled lots and lots. Everyone loved Christopher. At church, people gravitated to him so they could enjoy he gummy smiles. Mike Holder use to get in Christopher's face and say, "Christopher, get a job," and Christopher would kick and cackle excitedly.

When he was 3 he began developing a fine sense of humor. I'm sure he had heard these expressions somewhere, but one winter day he, Stephanie, and I went for a drive in the country. Christopher said, "Mom, I need to water my horse." Puzzled, I asked what he meant. "You know Mom, I need to make some mud." I quickly figured out he needed to pee.

Around the same time he entered a very pronounced cowboy phase. He took it very seriously, wearing western clothes and boots everywhere. What I wouldn't give to have those little gray boots now. Gordon sent him a lariat and Christopher took it wherever he went. He rode his tricycle down the sidewalk hollering "giddy-up" or "Eeeeeaww" playing like he was roping calves with his new rope.

After Gordon and I got engaged, we came to Canada for a visit. We went to Ft Steele to enjoy the western frontier life for a day. Gordon had a connection there so Christopher got to sit on one of the gigantic Belgian horses that even I would have been scared to sit on. The horse took one step and Christopher's eyes widened and he declared, "Wooooe, this one's a wiiiild one."

When we moved to Canada, he quickly adopted Gordon's fuzzy blanket with a horse on it as his own. To this day, we call that blanket the horsie blanket. At nap time he would curl up in his horsie blanket and when I left his room I'd say "Nappy Noon Christopher." He would counter with, "Mom, cowboys don't say Nappy Noon."

The next summer when he came to visit, I rented some videos about real cowboys. We watched boy cows being made steers (being neutered) and Christopher watched with sympathetic eyes. I explained the process and the reason behind it as best I knew. He took his thumb out of his mouth long enough to say, "When I get my farm, I'm not gonna do that to my cows."

The cowboy obsession is far behind Christopher. Now he drives a hippy van, plays football, leads worship some, plays guitar, and takes kindness and joy everywhere he goes.

I'm thankful for Christopher. I'm thankful I was chosen to give him birth. I'm thankful for the innumerable precious memories I have. I'm thankful Christopher walks with God and desires to honor and glorify him with his life.

Happy Birthday Christopher. I pray it will be a GREAT year for you. I love you.


my son, oh my son

Senior 5 Twenty years ago today a whopping 9.3 pound beautiful boy entered this world and my life. When the nurse placed him in my arms I was so struck with awe, all I could say was “My son, oh my son.” Like a stuck record.“ My son, oh my son.” It’s still a theme for me. Sometimes I look at his picture on the piano or my desk at work and say aloud, “My son, oh my son.” Sometimes when I hug him I hear the mantra slip out.

Some of my favorite memories of his toddling days are seeing his hefty body stuffed into padded feet pajamas. I adored that chunky form, his rolls, his creases. Smiles came unbidden when he entered a room.

He loved homemade bread. I always sliced the bread with an electric knife (yes, I know, a curious compulsion). I knew of his love for fresh bread but I wasn’t aware of his grasp that the electric knife meant fresh bread was imminent. Here’s how I found out (and to this day I can’t not smile when I think of it).

He and Stephanie were playing in their bedroom. Cackles of glee, banging of Lego blocks, and prouffs of the nerf ball hitting the wall echoed down the hall. They were totally present in their play. I had every reason to think I’d get the first slice of bread.

I fired up the electric knife to cut into a hot loaf. Christopher tore out of the bedroom with all the force his padded feet could conjure. His eyes shone with anticipation and, of course, he got the first slice of buttered bread.

His disposition was loving, affirming, and darn near angelic. He was an adoring son. When he was three we had a Sunday routine. When I finished getting ready for church I’d come out of the bedroom. Christopher’s eyes widened and he always chimed as if it was the first time he’d ever seen me dressed up, “Wow, Mama, you look purlee.” Then he’d stare at me for a few seconds as if my beauty took his breath away.

At mine and Gordon’s wedding Christopher and Stephanie were our only attendants. They were adorable. Four-year-old Christopher wore a tuxedo just like Gordon’s except Gordon had a “tail” and Christopher didn’t. Christopher didn’t notice this discrepancy until midway through the service. He picked up Gordon’s tail studying its function, bewilderment creasing his eyebrows. He craned his head backwards and pulled up his own jacket to find his tail. He didn’t find one so he fingered Gordon’s in perplexed curiosity.

With resigned acceptance he thrust his hands into his pockets. During a pause in the pastor’s words Christopher belted sweet and clear, “Mama, I’ve got a ring in my pocket.” Awwhhs and approving chuckles filled the sanctuary. He never knew he’d stolen the show.

A few summers ago I was so amazed by his grown up persona. He wasn’t a wittle (a Christopher word) boy any more, he was a young man. As much as I’d enjoyed that little boy, this man delighted me just as much. Now instead of filling my days with reasons to smile, he forced belly laughs on me.

Once when I came home from work he showed me his scuffed arm that came when he got hit by an SUV. I went mildly ballistic bulleting him with questions. Did they see you? Did they stop? Did you get their license plate number? Were there witnesses? Christopher interrupted my tirade with, “Mom, I just wanted to get out of the street so it wouldn’t happen again.”

Today my man cub is 20. He’s not a chunky monkey anymore, he doesn’t pad around in tight fitting pajamas, he's not particularly hung up on homemade bread, and he’s quit telling me I’m purlee. But he still makes a room light up – especially if I’m in it.

He is extraordinarily special. Of all the moms in the world I’m glad God chose me as his mom.

My son, oh my son, you are still my delight.


holy christopher

A Calgary story... It was a Sunday evening and we were going out to eat before church. However, we let time get away from us as we discussed where to eat. Gordon wanted one place, I wanted another and Stephanie wanted another. Time passed and it was pretty much too late to have a meal before going to church. We were getting to the place of agreeing to skip church so we could eat more leisurely.

Christopher wanted to go to church. With his holiest 6-year-old tone he said, "I don't care where we eat, I just wanna learn about God."

To this day, when we are being indecisive about something, one of us may drone, "I don't care where we eat, I just wanna learn about God."

 


two lives

I'm having a great time with Stephanie and John Mark and, of course, Romie Boy. Steph, JM and I have laughed lots. Romie Boy is so cute, cuddly, and sweeter than honey. He has definitely charmed this Beppie.

Stephanie is a woman, a real woman. Wife, mother, nurse, cook, cleaner,... I'm so thankful that she is able to be home with Roman most of the time. She only works a couple nights a week and Roman is with John Mark during those times. I'm proud of them for their priorities.

I went to Christopher's last weekend. I enjoyed him enormously. I went to his football game and mourned that I couldn't go to more. I got a tour of his dorm room and a quick tour of the campus. 

My time in Arkansas is coming to an end soon. Stacie will be here in a couple days. I can't wait to see her. All the family is getting together at Diane's then. I'll see nearly everyone. We'll laugh our heads off, no doubt.

I miss my hubby and girls up in Canada. How I wish we all lived closer. Last night I cried thinking about leaving here. How can I leave? How can I not? Life can be so hard. I am tired to death of living two lives, having two families. I want us all together.

 


stephanie's on a saturday

I'm having a great time in Fayetteville. Christopher is with us now and we are laughing lots and watching lots of football. The guys are on their third football game today. I didn't know three games a day was something people did. But these men are definitely hooked. We had lunch with my sister Diane yesterday. When I mentioned the football enthusiasts to her she said, "Football is like a cult here."

A while ago the kids were talking about a publicized incident that happened on a school bus on the way home from a soccer game. Stephanie and I got pretty fired up about it and John Mark and Christopher seemed to think little of it. Stephanie ranted, "You guys don't know what goes on on a school bus."

Christopher, who's ridden lots of school buses to and from football games, calmly said, "Stephanie I know exactly what goes on on a bus. I've actually ridden 'em, unlike you."


appaloosa

When Christopher was four or five we saw a bunch of horses on a ranch. He excitedly up-righted himself in the car to take in the view. Among the horses there was a black and white spotted one. Christopher yelled, "Woe look! There's a 101 Dalmatian horse."

shark

Today Rachael had cat food samples to deliver with her papers - two cans per house to be exact. It was a sizable increase of work.

Deborah was up for the challenge and Rachael promptly hired her to assist. Deborah isn't the most work-oriented child I've seen. I praised her ridiculously much just to get her to complete the task. But admittedly, it was quite a task for such a little one.

Deborah had on a sundress I made for her last summer. She's grown a lot this year. As she struggled with her bag of cat food cans, I couldn't help but smile. Her dress is approaching mini-skirt length, her flip flops looked a bit floppier than they should, her skinny legs reminded me of toothpicks. Her hair was sweaty and sticking to her head. She has a bit of sunburn and her red face glowed with heat and beads of perspiration. She walked clumsily with her heavy bag of cat food.

Rachael, a wonderful paper-delivery girl, stopped ever so often to wait for her sister. At first she seemed annoyed with Deborah's speed, but before long she realized the burden her little sister was carrying. After a while Rachael waited for Deborah to catch up without the annoyed sighs and rolling eyes. She even suggested that Deborah sit in the van for a rest while she delivered both the cat food and papers.

I was proud.

Deborah is my youngest and watching her get so big is frequently sending me down memory lane. Watching her today, I kept thinking about Christopher and his little-boy ways of years ago. What a wittle cutie he was.

He took a big fall when he was three and knocked out three teeth. That left a pretty big blank spot in his mouth for four years. He developed a unique mouth and lip movement to fill that empty spot. His lower lip passed through the gap with every word he spoke.

Along about this same time, he developed a shark fascination. He ordered shark when we ate out. I played along and whispered "chicken nuggets" to the waitress.

Watching Deborah and being reminded of Christopher, I sat in the van trying to move my jaw and lips to imitate the way Christopher said, "shark." I never was pleased with my imitation -- fortunately I don't have three teeth missing. But I enjoyed the mental pictures of Christopher saying "shark" that funny way he did many times in so many restaurants.


backwash

When Stephanie and Christopher were eight and four years old we took a road trip from Cranbrook to Edmonton, a bit of a journey. Along the way we bought treats to keep them occupied.

After finishing his treats, Christopher asked Stephanie for a drink. She kindly obliged and he took a hefty drink.

With marked annoyance she complained, "Ugh, gross! Look at all that backwash. Who would want this?"

Seizing the opportunity, Christopher optimistically piped, "I WOULD."


 


18 years ago today

February 20, 1989

I have humbly observed that every mother thinks her pregnancy, labor and delivery is the only one the world has ever known. Logically, women know otherwise, but when it comes down to the bare bones, yes, she alone has experienced true labor and delivery.

I have tried my darndest not to be that kind of person. Not that I'm not that kind of person, I actually am. I truly believe that MY pregnancies, labors and deliveries are really much more significant and colorful, than anyone else's. However I have tried not to act like that is what I believe. When women sit around and talk about dilation, mucous membranes, episiotomies, stitches, ripping and tearing, I have, for the most part, let them have their moment of fame, pretending that I actually believe that their's, not mine, was the more interesting. Today all of that changes.

18 years ago today, I had a baby. We named him Christopher Michael. (Stephanie wanted to name him Christopher Robin after the boy in Winnie the Pooh).

It was one of those dreadfully long pregnancies -- 14 or 15 months, depending on my mood. He was due on February 12. On the 13th I cooked up a plan to make him come on my birthday (the 14th). I went to Wal-Mart and bought a bottle of castor oil. I drank the entire bottle. That choice was one of my many poor choices in life. All evening and into the next day I heaved and poohed, heaved and poohed. I vowed if anyone suggested castor oil ever again that I'd slug 'em.

I threw up enough to recycle the castor oil 17 times. The slime that I projected out of my being was, as you may have guessed, very oily. Running to the bathroom, I threw up in the living room, several times, hence the stain in the middle of the living room carpet. We never got it out.

I was committed to Bible memorization throughout my pregnancy. I laid in the bathtub every night reciting and / or practicing long passages of Scripture. I worked on Deuteronomy 28, but never mastered it. I mastered Psalm 23 and Psalm 121.

Stephanie's labor had been long, laborious, and unpleasant. Being a wise woman of 23, I contrived a plan to outwit the system. I planned to stay home until it was time for him to come. I had not enjoyed the prolonged naked exposure the first time around and thought I'd circumvent a lot of that this time.

I went to great lengths to make sure things went just right. I pre-admitted myself because I didn't want to deal with the idiotic system of making a woman in labor sit in the admitting area filling out insurance documents? They were only going to abuse me like that once. Second time around, I was wiser. I was totally prepared.

February 20th was a Monday and I was scheduled to be induced at 7:00. At 5:00 I woke with a bang - a big contraction. Being a reasonable woman, I showered, rolled my hair, put on makeup, barely able to stand for the pain.

Since I was supposed to be induced at 7:00, my mom phoned to check on me. When she learned I was in labor she came over. The contractions were very powerful and about a nano-second apart, yet I was committed to not be at the hospital before 7:00. Humbly, Mama suggested several times that I re-think my plan and head to the hospital.

Kent and I were separated at the time, but he showed up to take me to my pre-scheduled 7:00 induction at 6:50. I laid down in the backseat of my little station wagon and away we sped. The pain seemed unbearable. I began quoting my Bible passages for comfort, getting louder and louder during contractions. "I look up to the mountains--does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made the heavens and the earth? He will not let you stumble and fall; the one who watches over you will not sleep. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never tires and never sleeps...."

When we got to the hospital I told Kent to go in and tell them I was pre-admitted and I wasn't coming in till my bed was ready. (Yes, I really said that.) Kent knew enough not to argue with a woman growling Bible verses. He left me there in the car screaming, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. Yeah, though I walk through the valley, thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus..."

Inside the hospital, Kent told them what I'd told him to: I was pre-admitted and I wasn't coming in until there was a bed ready for me. The nurse said to Kent, "Mr Rose, that's not how we do things."

Wisely, Kent said, "Then you go tell her." The nurse came to the car with a wheelchair and away we sped again. Within seven minutes I had a beautiful baby boy.

Without contest that delivery was my fastest. It was intense, but there's a lot to be said for brevity.

When Christopher was placed in my arms in the delivery room, all I could say was,"Oh my son, my son." I was so happy. My thoughts weren't coherent though. I said the same thing over and over. I felt silly saying it, but it was all that would come out. When I opened my mouth, it would pour out again, "My son, oh my son."

Christopher was a picture of contentedness. I loved showing him off; he made a good impression everywhere he went. He smiled, cooed, laughed and delighted people wherever he was.

He had the chunkiest, roundest little body making him heavenly to hold. Oh, how I loved him.

Oh, how I still love him. He's 18 today. Soon he'll finish high school and be moving on to college. He's a good worker, a kind person, still gentle just like he's always been. A perfect gentleman. Now instead of a chunky round baby, he's a long and lean man.

My verse for him is Proverbs 22:23,24 "He who has a wise son delights in him. May you father and mother be glad. May she who gave you birth rejoice." I'm still praying that he'll always be wise and I know that the one who gave him birth does rejoice in who he is.

pokie finger

027_27 (My little gentle man Christopher. 1990)

I just laid with Rachael as I tucked her in. She loves it when Gordon or I do that. Her love language is definitely spending quality time together.

As I lay beside her I wondered a few times if her eyes were open. As I wondered this I remembered a little habit of Christopher's when he was wee. He too liked me to lay with him. I'd lay very still hoping he'd fall asleep before I left him. He laid very still wondering if I was asleep or awake. Ever so slowly he'd raise his hands to my face and gently stick his finger in my eye to see if it was open or closed.

He was such a wittle cutie.

 

cute kids, silly moms

Kids are cute. Mothers are silly. Mothers smile at the ways their children pronounce, or mispronounce, words. It's one of those things that makes mothers mothers.

When Christopher was little, he couldn't say the L sound. His L's sounded like W's. He was such a wittle cutie. He carried his yewow wasso with him taking wuv and good feewings everywhere. Until Gordon entered the picture. Gordon began gently tutoring Christopher on luh, luh, luh. All the while I was nearly crying because my baby was about to learn how to pronounce his ls. Soon enough, Christopher grew from a wittle boy to a little boy carrying a yellow lasso. I was secretly annoyed that Gordon had moved Christopher from wittle boyhood to little boyhood.

Once Christopher made me a picture. I bragged and thanked him for the picture of the dinosaur and he replied, "That's not a dinosaur, that's a wizard." His lizard picture was taped to my cupboard door for months and I'd look at it frequently, smile and think, "That's not a dinosaur, that's a wizard."

When I was a young girl of 11 or 12, my toddler nephew was left in my care for a while. I took him for a walk. At each mud puddle, he'd say, "wa-wa" and I'd correct, "wa-ter." After a while we came to a puddle and I absent-mindedly said, "There's more wa-wa." Randy corrected, "wa-ter." I had mixed emotions. I was so pleased that I'd taught him something, yet apprehensive that someone might be mad at me. (My warped thinking goes way back.)

When I was a foster mom, one of my little charges put the emphasis on the last syllable of necklace and she gave it a long A sound too. Instead of nek-les, she said nek-lace. I always smiled and never corrected her pronunciation.

I hadn't thought about these things until last night when I once again smiled from my head to my toes. Hannah got a devotional book for Christmas and has diligently journaled in it. One of the questions is about verses that give you inspiration or encouragement.

She wanted to share with me all the verses that give her "inSPIREation." I smiled as she she read verses that speak inSPIREation to her wittle, I mean little, heart.

a christopher moment

(Christopher, 6-ish)
Scan20117 Yesterday we recalled and laughed about an incident from years ago. I'm guessing Christopher was around seven.

He made a summer friend named Aimee. She wasn't very cute and was very much a tomboy. They played daily.

After playing steadily for weeks, Christopher overheard someone remark about Aimee not being very pretty. Someone said, "Poor thing, she can't help how she looks."

Christopher was very shocked. With great animation in his face he said, "SHE?? You mean he's a girl?"

happy canadian thanksgiving

Gratitude is the most exquisite form of courtesy. - Jacques Maritain

Today is Canadian Thanksgiving. People ask me often if my countries celebrate Thanksgiving the same way. Yes, they do, but it's a bigger deal in the US.

In my ideal world, our family celebrates both. Admittedly though, it's unusual for Gordon to have both days off, making it near impossible to celebrate both. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and because of that, I do make a bit of effort to pull off two celebrations.

One of our traditions, and one that I look forward to from year to year, is our prayer of thanks before we eat. We go around the table thanking God for the things that mean the most to us. It's simple, but very meaningful.

Every Thanksgiving, I set aside some time to write out things I'm most thankful for. I could write for hours about those things, but I only want to write about one, and it will cover a lot of ground.

I am thankful I'm a child of God. Because I'm a child of God, I cannot lose. Everything that has happened, is happening, will happen, is for my good. With each passing day this mantra becomes more solidified in my heart: All things are working for my good. (Romans 8:28) If I really believe this, which I do, how could I be anything less than grateful? It's a spiritual principle that never ceases to awe me.

I'm thankful for all the redemption I've experienced in my life. Again and again I've seen God use the horrible messes in my life to bring me into greater truth and deeper faith. And in many of my personal tragedies I can see clearly that God was protecting me from me. Just to name a few:

- Pregnant before marriage at 18. It was to that point the most devastating thing in my life. Now I look back and think "Thank You God," because I realize many things I was probably spared. I was on a dangerous path. Through pregnancy, God barricaded that path and I'm so thankful He did. (Bonus, I got Stephanie). But it was one of the darkest, hardest times of my life.

- Bipolar Disorder. Oh how I hate depression, but it's been another unlikely tool God has used in my life to transform me. My weakness and fragility keeps me from taking on too much, which in turn keeps me totally engaged in being a wife, mother, and homemaker. This combination has made for a rich home life. (To those for whom that was news, medication keeps me on the level).

- Financial problems. From them spawned my immense gratitude for what we have and the recognition that I could have much less and still have way more than needed. Through financial problems I came to see my own materialistic way of thinking and how that mindset is so opposed to gratitude.

(Stephanie, Christopher, me and Booper 1992)
Scan20076 
- Losing custody of Stephanie and Christopher takes the prize for the most horrific time in my life. I still cannot understand, much less articulate, what all happened in the spirit world through that whole process, nor what continues to happen. But again, I see I was protected from myself and Stephanie and Christopher were too. Through that wilderness journey, I lost all control of my life and learned a new dependence on God.

Years ago at a Billy Graham Crusade, pointing to her wheelchair, quadriplegic Joni Erickson Tada, told the crowd, "This is the prison that set me free." That so resonates with me. Losing Stephanie and Christopher, by far the hardest thing ever in my life, was the prison that set me free. God totally broke me and remade me a new person.

- Through all of the above trials, my ugly propensity of pride and arrogance have been weakened. I've learned a humble life is much easier than a proud one.

So today, I again recognize how thankful I am for everything I've listed above. They were all used to teach me another element of who God is and how much He loves me. He will stop at nothing to bring me closer to Him. Rich Mullins said, "It's the reckless raging fury, that they call the love of God." His love can indeed look like a reckless raging fury. But it's love nonetheless.

a praying dog

Lucy and Christopher, 2005.
I haven't been able to train the pets to pray. Someone, unfortunately unidentified, was. Oh to be that spiritual!

However, I do think my dear Lucy is related to this spiritual dog. Lucy is a unique blend of Bassett Hound, Dachschund, and Corgi. This spiritual dog appears to be the same blend. I bet they're sisters. Lucy didn't get the religious gene though.

Do you see the striking resemblance?

Pray for Lucy, she's not where she should be with God. She doesn't pray.


growing up

(Christopher, 7th grade)
016_16 When my nephew CJ was a small fry, he didn't want to grow up. When asked why, he responded, "Grown-ups just sit around, drink coffee, and talk." That certainly didn't look fun to him.

Well, Hannah surprised me yesterday with a not-wanting-to-grow-up comment. "I don't want to grow up," she said. When I asked why, she grimaced and said, "I don't want to get bum hairs."

Several years ago when Christopher was going through puberty, he proudly showed me his armpit hair. There were four or five, and he started pretending he had named them. Rattling off names as fast as he could think of them, he said, "This is Huey, this one's Dewey, this one's Louie, and this one," he stammered as he tried to quickly rhyme a 4th words, "Is Pubie."

Before he had a chance to amend his mistake, I offered, "I do believe Pubie's lost."

generic cereal

(Stephanie and Christopher, 1990)
015_15 Of all my children, Christopher has the kindest and most thoughtful disposition. The others have developed (or are developing) the same, but it came with training. Christopher seemed to be born with it.

When Maddox Grocery came into our small town of Mena Arkansas, it brought with it my first exposure to generic foods. I quickly discovered we could easily settle for many generic items. I always bought generic cereal. The boxes were yellow with black lettering. The name of the cereal was usually a twist on whatever cereal they were replacing. “If you like Lucky Charms, you'll love these,” the writing said. There were two types I always bought. One was the AlphaBits imitation, the other was the Lucky Charms copy.

The thing with generic, at least back in those days, you really never knew for sure what you were getting. Once both of my brands were sold out and I had to make a substitute. The next morning, Stephanie and Christopher were dressing upstairs when I opened the cereal and prepared our breakfast. I was slightly horrified to see that my new cereal looked exactly, and I do mean exactly, like Booper’s generic dog food. I rehearsed an explanation for the children and waiting for them to come down for breakfast.

Three-year-old Christopher came first. He sat down in his chair beside mine and stared silently at his bowl of cereal. After several moments he spoke hesitantly, “This looks like Booper’s food.” I whispered that I knew it did, but if we mentioned it to Stephanie she would not eat it, so let’s “keep it under our hats.”

Stephanie came downstairs with her school stuff in tow. She sat down and looked into her bowl. Without a second’s hesitation, her head spun toward me, her brow creased, and she snapped accusingly, “You feeding us dog food?”

I had to show Stephanie the cereal box to make her believe me. As it turned out, it tasted more fitting for a dog than a human. None of us ate more than a half a bite’s worth before I added it to Booper’s pail of dog food.

christopher is 17

Today is my only son's 17th birthday. Everyone should have someone in their life like Christopher. He brings delight and joy wherever he is. He weighed 9.3 when he was born; a chunky, beautiful, fair-skinned bundle of love. For the first few hours he was naked because the nurses couldn't find a "hospital-issue" sleeper big enough for him. Dr Mesko gave the babies he delivered a t-shirt that read "Delivered with Love by Dr. Mesko." From Christopher's first breath, he was too big for that t-shirt. (But I still have it.)

    (1989, one of the best days of my life.)

Scan20002 He was a very contented baby who slept lots, was pleasant when he was awake, was easily entertained, and who smiled lots and lots. Everyone loved Christopher. At church, people gravitated to him so they could enjoy his gummy smiles. Mike Holder use to get in Christopher's face and say, "Christopher, get a job," and Christopher would kick and cackle excitedly.Scan20015 

When he was three he began developing a fine sense of humor. I'm sure he had heard these expressions somewhere, but one winter day he, Stephanie, and I went for a drive in the country. Christopher said, "Mom, I need to water my horse." Puzzled, I asked what he meant. "You know Mom, I need to make some mud." I quickly figured out he needed to pee.

Around the same time he entered a very pronounced cowboy phase. He took it very seriously, wearing western clothes and boots everywhere. What I wouldn't give to have those little gray boots now. Gordon sent him a lariat and Christopher took it wherever he went. He rode his tricycle down the sidewalk hollering "giddy-up" or "Eeeeeaww" playing like he was roping calves with his new rope.

Scan20073 (3 years old, 1991)

After Gordon and I got engaged, we went to Canada for a visit. We went to Ft Steele to enjoy the western frontier life for a day. Gordon had a connection there so Christopher got to sit on one of the gigantic Belgian horses. The horse took one step and Christopher's eyes widened and he declared, "Wooooe, this one's a wiiiild one."

Scan20154(2006 Jr. Prom night)
When we moved to Canada, he quickly adopted Gordon's fuzzy blanket with a horse on it as his own. To this day, we call that blanket the horsie blanket. At nap time he would curl up in his horsie blanket and when I left his room I'd say "Nappy Noon Christopher." He would counter with, "Mom, cowboys don't say 'Nappy Noon'."

The next summer when he came to visit, I rented some videos about real cowboys. We watched boy cows being neutered and Christopher watched sympathetically. I explained the process and the reason behind it as best I knew. He took his thumb out of his mouth long enough to say, "When I get my farm, I'm not gonna do that to my cows."

The cowboy obsession is far behind Christopher. Now he drives a hippy van, plays football, leads worship some, plays guitar, and takes kindness and joy everywhere he goes.

I'm thankful for Christopher. I'm thankful I was chosen to give him birth. I'm thankful for the innumerable precious memories I have. I'm thankful Christopher walks with God and desires to honor and glorify him with his life.

Happy Birthday Christopher. I pray it will be a GREAT year for you. I love you.


thanks

(Our family in 2001. The little guy Stephanie is holding was our foster child, Markie Boy.)
Scan20135
Psalm 50:23 "But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me."

--Gordon, I'm thankful for Gordon, my husband. We don't always see eye to eye, and sometimes we fight, and sometimes I wish he'd not treat me like a child, ...... But I'm still thankful for him. He is a "family man" and since it's my family, I find that very attractive. He is intelligent, honest, hard-working, an excellent daddy, a good provider, committed and faithful.

--My Children, I'm thankful for my children. I have 5. Stephanie and Christopher are my first litter and Rachael, Hannah, and Deborah are my second.

Stephanie is 20. Her life turned me to God and I will never get over the impact she had on me. I didn't know it was possible to love so much and so deeply. In 1 Corinthians there is a man mentioned whose name was Stephanus. Stephanus "refreshes my spirit" Paul wrote. Well, my Stephanie refreshes my spirit. She is sensitive, funny, Godly, idealistic, good and pure. She is quick to see the good in others. Now that she is a woman, I find her an absolute blast to hang out with. She is a lot like me, but a ton wiser than I was at her age. I'm thankful for her and for her wisdom.

Christopher is 16. Over the past two years, I've watched him become more and more manly. Subsiding are the fantasies of being a super-hero, and surfacing is a man. For a number of years I thought Christopher was "off." I worried that he was a few fries short of a happy meal. He was the sweetest and gentlest child I ever knew. I called him my "Little Gentle Man." But I worried that he just "didn't get it." He went a number of years thinking he was invincible. He thought he could fly, beat up anyone, fight any bear in the woods and win, and that everyone trembled when they saw his brute strength. One summer we forbade him to play his superhero roll. He wept and wailed, "but I'm not playing, I really AM a superhero." Yep, I imagined sitting in the psychiatrist's office with him as we learned more about delusional behavior. But fortunately Christopher now has a grip on reality. He is a good worker, he is thoughtful and kind, sensitive and good. He too is committed to God, and I'm thankful for all he is and all he is becoming.

Girls in canola Rachael is my Dykstra child. She is the most like my husband's side of the family. She knows more than a typical 9 year old. (Read between the lines, she's a know it all.) She is full of life. I love how her eyes sparkle, they smile every bit as much as her mouth does. She loves to read and loves physical activity. She is well rounded. She laughs easily at my corny jokes. She is a very good worker; she's the one I count on to help me most. Rachael is beginning to read the Bible regularly and I'm thankful for her and her love for knowledge. I am thankful for Rachael.

Hannah is 8. She reminds me of me when I was little. She is thoughtful and sensitive. When she was three we were in the van when we encountered in the lane coming toward us a motorcycle parade. A policeman on a motorcycle was on the side of the road, stopping traffic for this parade. I was so touched by Hannah's 3-year-old sensitivity when she said, "Oh that is so sad. They won't let him in." That is Hannah! She is artsy, tender and loves lady type things. (Presently she claims to be a tom-boy, but believe me, she may be active and tough, but a tomboy she's not.) I am thankful for Hannah.

Deborah is the baby of the family (in more ways than one). She is 5. She's stout and tall. I think she may end up the biggest of the girls. She looks like me, I think. She is very social, loves people, has lots of friends. She is polite. She still sucks her thumb and makes little effort to give it up. "It tastes so good," she says. She has just learned to read and we are all excited about that. She still loves to be held and cuddled lots. I am thankful for Deborah.

--I am thankful for my church, my pastor and his wife, and all our friends there. Our church is going through a hard time. A lot of people have left and maybe more will be going. But I know my church is Christ centered and that comforts me.

--I'm thankful for God's gifts to me in the form of the Bible and prayer. These are our road maps in these troubled and confusing times. I'm thankful for the guidance.

--I'm thankful for the freedom and beauty of my country.

--I'm thankful that our needs are met and that my children's needs are met. Not long ago I read about a man visiting Brazil. At a red light a little girl about 4 years old came out to wash his headlights. This was a modification on the windshield washer's job. She wasn't big enough to reach the windshield, so she washed the headlights instead. He gave her some money and drove on. He cried out to God, "God why don't you do something about that?" He sensed God respond with, "I am. I created you." The story was a heart-wrenching story and I have yet to get it out of my mind. It could have been my children in the streets washing headlights for a quarter. I'm thankful for our met needs. (I wish I could reconcile in my mind why we have so much and others so little. Nonetheless, I'm thankful for my children's needs being met.)

--I'm thankful for the experiences and revelations I've had over the years that have shaped me and brought me closer to God.

--I'm thankful that God continues to take me deeper in my relationship with him.

Psalm 50:23 "But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me."