Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What's in a name...

As a mother, I have a unique space with my children, to create.  I can create meaning as I pause in our day to describe the beauty of a sunset.  When my boys grasp to be first,  I can define the moment where we seek to be servants; we can choose to be last.  As we talk about a fellow playmate's fascination with base jokes, I can give the children fodder for thought on how we can laugh around more lovely subjects.

Likewise, I can destroy.  I can take the hope out of the little voice asking to come see the cockroach he just killed with an ignoring response.  When my son pours milk in the cup, on the counter, and it begins to drip down to the floor, I can miss the opportunity to call him a helpful big brother with a testy reaction to the mess.  When my child needs me to be the authority in their lives, I can overly expose them to the whims of the world as I seek to be their peer.

I can create, and I can destroy.

(Bob Dylan song in my head here, yes I have spent many years with my children's music as my mainstay. Go ahead, listen to it as you read on :)

"Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field." -Genesis 2:19-20

I don't know about you, but I am fascinated by this incredible window into God's relationship with us.  At the very beginning of the world, even as Adam is still wiping the dust off from his emergence, low and behold, here is God bringing over a fluffy timid bunny, a mournfully squawking feathered peacock, a scaly iridescent beta fish.  

And what is God doing as he brings them to Adam,?  He is waiting.  You get a feeling He is expectantly waiting, with excitement, as he listens to Adam.  You can almost hear Him whispering, "What about this one, Adam, what do you think we should call him?"

And that was it.  The authority is apparent, it says, whatever Adam chose as a name, that would be it.  There are few moments as poignant as this one. God is sharing his gift of creation by giving his newly made man this creative privilege.

And He offers me the same.  And He offers you the same.  Somehow, in the profound mystery that is God's plan, we are co-creators in this world.  We are namers.

Look back over your day, over your week, over your children's young lives.  What are the names you have given them?  Are they: special, precious, my lovies, beautiful, handsome, amazing, beloved, good?

When they do something so very imperfect, when they get in the way of your well planned day, when they interrupt your oh so spiritual quiet time, how are you naming them?  Do you let slip: messy, annoying, clumsy, distracted, sensitive, slow, lazy, a problem?

What about the names they know you mean for them?  Is it little lamb or a kid?  Is it precious or dude?  Is it wise one or too smart for her own good?  Is it blessings or rugrats? Is it creating or is it destroying?

There are power in those words.  They carry with them authority.  They will stick.  As mothers, they are ours to give.  God lets us name.  And, I think, He is waiting, listening, excitedly.  Mary Robin, what do you think we should name this one?

Monday, October 4, 2010


Today, a sweet blanket of mist covered the mountains, softening hard edges.  It was as though God's grace had come to dwell a bit in the land.  The cool air indicated an end to the heat wave, where life felt overly prescribed and precise.

What could I do but respond to the children's pleas to go out into the rain to play.  What joy to hear the sweet pitter patter of the fresh cleansing rain broken occasionally by the hearty laughter of children splashing and running.

Few moments include the words cool, rain, and gentle in our weather.  Our four children will never again be this young, this able to see the simple happiness to be found in a rainy day.

God offers moments to each of us, every day.  They may not be for what we planned, they may not match all our expectations for the day, but they are there, free to receive.

We take it as grace, we live in this moment.  And by God's grace, this is all we need.

"The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with 
the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus." - 1 Timothy 1:14

Sunday, October 3, 2010


As I entered the adult world, I had been given all the tools to be a successful career woman.  I had gone to a rigorous college, been given a honors scholarship, enrolled in an exclusive honors program with one on one access to the top professors, done internships in my chosen area, completed a master's level of education, worked for years in the field, with great success.  I was very prepared for professional work.

Yet when this tiny little child took my heart away, it became apparent that nothing in this world I could do would compare with the impact I could have on this little life.

My father had always told me, "do the thing that no one else can do but you."  And it became apparent that no one else could be the mother to my baby and create a home life for my family other than me.  I was thrilled at the prospect.

However, I had not been groomed for this new role, I had not been handed the tools to take this role up seamlessly, and I needed help.  It came from some amazing places.

A dear friend, 7 years younger than me, showed up at the hospital with diapers and an outfit.  I had not even realized I would be needing these things.  But sure enough, they were the exact thing for that exact moment that were most imperative.  My daughter left the hospital dressed and dry.

I continued to follow this sweet woman into her home, getting together with her as often as she would have me.  She already had two children of her own, and her home was everything mine wasn't and mine needed to be.

T. let me in her home two or three times a week.  She always was cooking and cleaning, though she did not require that her house be perfect to let me in.  Far from it, she allowed me to see it messy, see the children in various stages of ready for the day, and watch as she negotiated breast feeding, meal prep, decorating, sewing, gardening, and child development activities.  Her home was a bustle of activity, and so very alive. I took copious notes, and still am imitating her well loved home.

Her home was alive; with her artistic and gentle heart at the middle of it.

From her, I learned to make a chicken, make salads with every meal, draw and sit with the children, create a home that is inspiring, have a garden of herbs, to breast feed, and to nap my children.  Yes, you heard it, nap.

At the time, I was still just letting my little daughter dictate when she wanted to sleep.  One day, as I was sitting with her in my arms, my dear friend T. noted, "You know, she will be a much less grumpy child if you lay her down for regular naps, BEFORE she starts to get sleepy".

Ahh, the years of peace in my home this one timely advice has given me and my family.  I asked her to write down a sleep/wake schedule, which she penciled on the back of an envelop from my purse.  I went home, tacked that little crumpled piece of paper to my wall, and began meticulously following it.

I have been a big advocate of regular naps ever since. And my children nap regularly and are grumpy no more, and all thanks to my friend T.

As I reflect on what has made me the mother I am today, I realize solid friends are at the core of much of my successes.

For the friendship to be a gleaning one, I must have a teachable spirit in me.  I must be willing to open up and allow kind individuals into my life who are one, two or even ten years ahead of me in motherhood.

And second, for it to be a grace filled one, the friend must be an unconditionally accepting one, willing to come over to my house, and have me in their home.  A person willing to give me their time, allow me access to them even in their imperfections.  One who can observe my life, give me tidbits of input, and be a great example of motherhood to me.

Where are you needing to open up your life to  another, so you can glean from them?
Where are you needing to pursue a friend who needs a good example and a grace filled friendship?

It will make all the difference in the world.

Oil and perfume make the heart glad,
         So a man's counsel is sweet to his friend. -Proverbs 27:9