Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Guilty Pie

I often joke that I lose the "Mother of the Year Award" the day after Mother's Day each year. Perhaps I blow it by losing my temper or by refusing to play knights and dragons or by desperately needing a nap. There are any number of ways I feel like I fail my boys. But today I really did blow it. Big time. (No, really!)

Around 8:30 a.m. I received a phone call with a small, sweet voice on the other end. "Mom, you didn't send in my lunch form," Reed said. "Yes, I did sweetie. I sent it with Seth's," I replied. "No, my teacher said you didn't," he explained. "Is there a grown up there with you? Please put her on the phone." So, I explained to the woman on the other end that I send both lunch order forms in with Reed's older brother. Everything is fine (or so I think).

When I pick Reed and Seth up this afternoon, I mention my phone call with Reed that morning. Huge tears well up in his eyes. "You didn't sign me up for lunch today, and I didn't have anything to eat," he cries. Okay, now I understand. You see, last week we planned for Reed to take his lunch on the day that Panera caters for the school, which I thought was tomorrow. My was today.

"Did they give you something to eat?" I ask. "Roast beef, but I didn't like it. I'm STARVING," he replies, as tears drip down his cheeks. I quickly drive home, fix Reed a corn dog (and then a second, which he completely devours), and fix myself a big, heaping dish of guilty pie.

As I chew (guilty pie is tough to swallow), I resolve to pay more attention to the details, and I will try. But I know that this isn't the last time I will mess up, disappoint my sons, or miss the mark as their mom. I spit out the bitter bite of guilty pie and exchange it for a more filling slice of humble pie.

I ask Reed for his forgiveness. He looks at me curiously (he has nearly forgotten the "no lunch-yukky roast beef" crisis of his day). But hopefully the boys learn, in moments like these, that it's okay to make mistakes, it's honorable to admit them, and it's important to seek forgiveness.

And, for your information, tomorrow's lunch is from Wendy's ... and I did send in the order form for both boys!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Valley Song

Today I'm grieving for friends who are in the midst of a battle. It seems like the enemy of our hearts has won. I am so sad, but I know it cannot compare to their sorrow. Yesterday this song by Jars of Clay came to mind. My friend, Janna, shared it with me a few months ago, and it was truly like a balm for my soul. Here are the lyrics (to hear it, click here: )

verse 1
You have led me to the sadness
I have carried this pain
On a back bruised, nearly broken
I'm crying out to you

I will sing of your mercy that leads me through valleys of sorrow to rivers of joy.

When death like a Gypsy
Comes to steal what I love
I will still look to the heavens
I will still seek your face

But I fear you aren't listening
Because there are no words
Just the stillness and the hunger
For a faith that assures

I will sing of your mercy that leads me through valleys of sorrow to rivers of joy.

verse 2
While we wait for rescue
With our eyes tightly shut
Face to the ground using our hands
To cover the fatal cut

And though the pain is an ocean
Tossing us around, around, around
You have calmed greater waters
Higher mountains have come down

I will sing of your mercy that leads me through valleys of sorrow to rivers of joy.

Jesus proclaims: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" (Luke 4:18-19). Other translations read, "He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives."

In this valley, I will sing and worship and pray for a glimpse of the river beyond the next bend. I pray for my friends to cling to this hope ... for Jesus has come to rescue, to redeem, and to restore. Hallelujah.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


I think about grace a lot. For one reason, because it's a word God spoke to me several years ago ... maybe a name, but maybe more of a truth he wanted me to consider and understand. Because I associate "grace" (elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action -- which I often feel sorely lacking) with "GRACE" (the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God), my stumbling, stammering self serves as a daily reminder of my lack of creditials, my missing the mark, and my inability to deserve such a gift.

Sometimes my lack of grace is something only I am aware of, as I miss a step and trip down the stairs unnoticed. Other times I do this in front of others, and my face flushes crimson. And then there are those times that I just have to laugh when my spectacular lack of grace takes center stage and the spotlight is on. Yesterday I had such a moment.

The boys and I went bowling with my cousin, and we had the alley nearly to ourselves -- thank goodness! I stepped over into lane 10 to take a picture of Seth in action on lane 12, when I stepped over the line. Okay, no one ever told me that they slick the bowling lanes down with baby oil or butter or something. My bowling shoe-clad feet whipped out from under me, and I believe I hovered in mid-air before crashing to the hardwoods on my right buttock. Ow!

Bad enough. I am thinking, "Who saw that?" while also thinking, "Man, that hurt!!!" The kids are checking on me, my cousin is concerned, and I am just wanting the world to keep spinning while I remain unnoticed. That's when the voice on the loudspeaker, no joke, comes on. "Please do not step onto the lanes. They are very slippery." Hmmm ... first thought, "No kidding!" Second thought, "Little late for that instruction." Third thought ... never mind, I'll keep that one to myself.

Moments like these (and there are many) remind me of my imperfections, my foibles, my flaws. Yet, they bring the idea of grace to my mind and make me aware of how generous God was to gift someone as ungraceful as me with his GRACE. Underserved, unmerited favor. And whether I am as graceful as Olympic diver or as clumsy as circus clown, his GRACE covers me -- completely. I may lack grace, but I overflow and swim deeply in his GRACE.

Friday, August 8, 2008


This week my boys and I went home ... to my home in LaFollette, which my parents built when I was two years old and where they have lived ever since. It's a trip we frequently make, as we're blessed to live only an hour from them, and it is a joy to watch the boys play there.

As I was tucking Reed in on Wednesday night, I said, "Do you know whose bed this used to be?" It was mine throughout my childhood, with the neighboring twin bed occupied many years by my sister (until she moved into her own room next door). I looked around the room and remembered playing in that space, running down the hall, hiding behind the door to the den and peeking through the crack to see what Mom and Dad were watching on tv.

Now it is my boys turn. They had some "spy gear" with them on this trip, so they attached the "lock" to their bedroom door. Anytime one of us would try to open it, an alarm would blast and I could hear them whisper and giggle behind the door. Papers slid out from the crack under the door with secret messages written in code, and when one ventured out, he had to give the password to reenter.

I have vivid memories of playing at my grandparents' house when I was a child ... the sight of my grandmother, Amma, standing in her small kitchen cooking chicken and dumplings or homemade biscuits. My grandfather reclining in his large red leather chair or sitting at the dining table, mixing his molasses and butter with a fork for those homemade biscuits. I can recall the knick-knacks on the shelves, the cherry-scented Jergens lotion in the bathroom, and the big tree out front that we climbed on.

I watch my boys sneaking through the halls of my childhood home, up to some mischief, or enacting some battle or adventure in the yard, and it makes me smile. I know that Seth and Reed will always recall the smell of this house, the sight of BaBa on his mower, the expectation of MiMi in her kitchen, and the deep sense of home that they feel when they are here.