Friday, March 30, 2012

Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

That’s what little boys are made of…

I came across this little boy bedroom on Pinterest recently and though it appropriately summed up the definition of my little boy.

Dirt and noise.
Mischief and laughter.
Slobber and babble.
Determination and curiosity.

But back to the dirt…

While play clothes, knee patches, and buckets for soaking filthy laundry may be in my immediate future, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. A little dirt does a boy good. He’ll learn not to eat it. And what he eats, well—what doesn’t kill him, will only make him stronger. The opportunity and sheer excitement he has to explore the world mouth hands-on is priceless. I will not take this from my son.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How many times have you said the sinner’s prayer?

I’m up to at least 100 billion times by now.

You don’t believe me. But it’s true.

Because there’s the first time. When I was about 5. This is the only time I ever talk about. So I can understand if you don’t believe me. I can remember kneeling by the couch in our living room. Saying the magic words. And like that, I was “saved.”

Then there was the time my mom took my probably five-year-old brother and me {so I would have been in the neighborhood of 7} to see some super creepy 80’s-style Left Behind-type movie at our church. {The later Kirk Cameron version is cute and cuddly compared to this scary version}. Husband and wife go to bed together. Wife wakes up alone in a world of chaos. Terrible things happen. Finally, the mean men wrestle with her on a cliff, trying to stamp 666 onto her forehead because then it would be too late to be saved. But in her final moment she decides to jump off the cliff into the rocky waters below. {sharp inhale} She committed suicide?! The unpardonable sin. But somehow, choosing to kill herself rather than take the mark of the beast insinuated that she chose salvation in those last moments. But how would I ever know if she was ever really saved? Because it was unpardonable. Maybe she just chose one hell over another. How was I supposed to know? I was just a kid. Doctrine said God didn't pardon suicide. Was there some red tape? Some gray areas? They always made it seem so black and white. So I said the sinner’s prayer again…just to be sure I wouldn’t have to choose between one of those terrible fates.

Oh, and there were the times when religious instruction would berate my conscience. You know, like the verse {maybe it’s not even a verse…maybe they just made it up to scare me} that says something like if you know what’s right and you don’t do it, it’s sin. So that every time I’d pass even a fleck of lint on the floor, I couldn’t walk past it without picking it up for fear that I’d sin. Because I knew that it was right to help mom clean up. She’d pick up the lint. And then, if I sinned… I’d have to remember that sin so that I could ask forgiveness. But what if I forgot? Or what if I sinned and didn't know it was sin so I never asked forgiveness? I always wondered if God honored the catch-all forgiveness prayer. You know like Please forgive me of all my sins! It’s way easier. But then I would go to take Communion and they’d tell me that to take Communion without a pure heart was despicable to Jesus. So I better examine myself carefully before drinking the grape juice. And I couldn’t remember all those times that I sinned. What if I missed one? Would God forgive me for eating the cardboard wafer with some unconfessed sin in my heart? For failing to pick up a piece of lint on the ground because I was just so damn tired of bending over that day? Well, I better say the sinner’s prayer. Just to be sure. They say that covers everything.

And of course, there were all those times I’d wake up scared to death in the middle of a very dark night. I’d hold my breath so that my ears could detect sounds of life outside my bedroom. I couldn’t hear anything. Now my heart would start pounding. The blood pulsing loudly in my ears. The fear was gripping. But, I’d force myself to climb out of bed and tiptoe to my parents’ bedroom so that I could peek in their door and make sure they were still in their bed. Because my parents were surely going to heaven. Thankfully, I had never been left behind. But just in case, I’d say that prayer again as I tiptoed back to bed willing my heart to settle, too afraid and ashamed to admit my fear of being left behind.

Then there were all of those Sundays growing up. I mean every. single. one. The pastor’s face would slowly return to a normal shade of pale as he came to the end of his alliterative sermon. He’d ask us all to bow our heads and close our eyes. No looking around. Then he’d ask if there was anyone who wasn’t sure where they were going to spend eternity. Show by a raise of hands, please. More often than not there would be an intermittent Thank you. Thank you, you may put your hand down. I see your hand. Thank you. Sometimes I would peek. But I was never quick enough to see the brave soul who raised her hand. I would scan the pews for a new face. {Because if your pew had your backside impressed upon it, then you had to be safe}. But they were all familiar. What if no one raised their hand and he just said that to make us question our salvation even more? Or what if there were others like me? Only they were braver. They could raise their hands, admitting insecurity. Did they raise their hands every week? Because I should have. Instead, I’d just repeat the pastor’s prayer each week. He’d even kindly pause in between phrases, allowing me to get it just right. Not missing a word. Resaving myself. 100 billion times.

Meanwhile, I lived in hell.

The fear of eternal hell became my hell on earth. It was torturous. Terrible. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Living hell on earth for the hope of salvation was no life at all. Because while I was so severely afraid of some eternal hell that may or may not even be real, I was living in a current reality of daily hell. Hell was all I knew. In my hell, I hoped that salvation was real. What I didn't know then was that salvation was meant to rescue me from this hell on earth.

Because salvation has always been about here and now. Sure, God will save you no matter when you ask Him. So if you're inclined to live a torturous, fear-filled life on earth in hope of a future eternal salvation, He’s not going to stop you. But He died to save you now. To save you from hell on earth. And to give you the opportunity to live heaven on earth. Because it's real. It's possible. And I've discovered it.

I haven’t said the sinner’s prayer in years. And it feels so good!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Stepping Out of the Boat

Will Hart of Hart Ministries recently posted this on his Facebook page:

This is the time and the place where we are to be and it is up to us to pursue it. If we don't step out of the boat we will end up staying in it and all we will have is an experience. Nothing more. We have to step out of the boat and into our destiny. That's God's design for us.

Ben and I believe that God has created us to fulfill a great big destiny. Over the past three-and-a-half years of marriage, our hearts have taken separate journeys but have {miraculously} arrived at the same place. Our destiny. I knew I married the man of my dreams. My soul mate. But I did not know that God had taken it even further, creating us to fulfill the same destiny—a destiny that one could not fulfill without the other.

Over the past few months, we have begun the journey toward our destiny. Sort of just bobbing along to start. But we have arrived on the open sea. Our boat will not contain us for much longer. And so we either step out of the boat and sink. Or we step out of the boat and walk on water.

The few people we’ve told think we’re crazy. And rightly so. None of it makes sense from a natural perspective. But we know the destiny for which God created us. And we have an arsenal of promises from a Friend who has never broken even one. And we know our Daddy’s heart is full of love toward us. He would never let us sink.

So, we step out of the boat. Cheers to walking on water.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Backyard Explorer

With the 70 degree days and daylight savings time adding extra sunlight to our days, we’ve been hitting the outdoors. Burke has been having fun exploring his surroundings and eating everything he discovers.

 He loves racing to something that’s caught his eye. Usually, he does so at a surprisingly fast clip, with a determined or amazed look on his face and exuberantly exclaiming “Oooo!” in one of his many—probably intentionally meaningful (although lost of us)—inflections.
It is such a gift to rediscover the world through the eyes of a 9 month old babe. The amazement. The wonder. The eager anticipation. Trees, leaves, sticks, rocks, flowers, sky, birds and, his favorite, wind. He loves catching a face full of wind. He blinks his eyes furiously. Has to catch his breath. And always, always does it with his now signature wide-open-mouth toothy smile.
 And to think, it’s only March! So much time to explore. So much world to discover. I’m so glad I get to do it with him!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

It’s Days Like This…

It’s days like this
Tabitha 044
that make my heart sing.

It’s smiles like this
that make my heart melt.

It’s a man like this
that makes my heart race.

It’s moments like this
that make my heart overflow with love and joy.

There really is no better time than now to be alive!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ham in the Highchair

My son is like me (oh dear). He lives for the limelight. Thrives in it, really. And apparently there is no stage like his highchair. High above the ground, in his big green throne, he lords over the dog and finds himself right in the center of his subjects’ parents’ affection. He’ll do anything for a laugh—a reward so simple and easily provoked and yet so coveted. And we graciously indulge him. Well, we can’t help it, really. Needless to say, we always look forward to our next meal with this guy, as we never know what he’ll cook up for our entertainment.

Burke smush face

Saturday, March 3, 2012

To My Darling Burke: 9 Months

Nine. Months. Old. Already. And I even got one extra day to enjoy you while you were eight months, thanks to Leap Day! If I had to choose one word to describe this month for you, love, it would be: development. Fast and furious development both physical and intellectual, social and emotional. You have done more in this one month than all the other months combined. And you have not ceased to mesmerize me with your innocent comprehension of the world you inhabit.

Let's start with the physical.

Shortly after turning 8 months old, you already knew you were done with your odd version of crawling. Before we knew it, you were pulling yourself up on everything and anything. Your crib, the couch, our clothes, and the most unreliable source, the dog. Yes, your doggie loves you and is exceedingly patient with your demands, but when you grab hold of him and try to pull up, you end up on the floor with fists full of white hair and tears streaming down your sweet little cheeks. Whether it's that you don't learn or that you're just a determined sort of fellow, I can't quite tell yet. But you try again and again. It's a good thing you have a hard noggin! Not only do you pull yourself up on your crib, but you also quite enjoy jumping. That is, until you knock your sweet little mouth full of teeth on the wrought iron railing.

You also discovered how to go from your belly to a sitting position. When playing or when in your crib, this is one of your favorite tricks. In fact, you'll go from belly to sitting, belly to sitting, belly to sitting...until you've "belly-sat" yourself in a complete circle. We think maybe you enjoy playing with your toys from different perspectives?

Toward the beginning of the month, we visited your friend, James. He had a lot of different toys than you and you were happy as could be exploring these new finds well past your 7 o'clock bedtime. I realized that we didn't really have any toys like James had to help you learn to stand and walk. So, after a trip to the consignment store, we were the proud new owners of yet another noisy, gaudy, exceedingly tacky Fisher Price toy--but, this one has come to be your favorite. It's a push toy and at first, you liked to stand behind it but had no idea what to do with your feet. So I would let it roll out from you just a little bit while your little head figured out that you needed to make your feet catch up. After just one week of this, you were fearlessly and recklessly zooming around the house, crashing into everything and anything in the way. Your doggie has started to retreat now when you come after him with your walker. By the end of the second week, you had gained so much control over your body, that you could walk with your toy more purposefully, stopping and starting and pulling yourself up when you fell. It amazed us both that you learned this so quickly. Now, this is your (nearly) sole mode of transportation. Crawling is too slow and while you haven't yet learned to turn, you know that someone will lend a hand.

Now, the intellectual.

You now love to read. We have been "reading" to you since the beginning, but it was more of an acrobatic exercise trying to keep you from squirming off our laps while making up some words to complement the pictures on the pages that we were either trying to keep out of your wet slobbery mouth or from your sticky chubby little fists that are all to eager to destroy the things that come within their grasp. I have taken to reading books while waiting for your milk belly burp since you no longer go along with the over-the-shoulder maneuver. So, early in the month, we turned to a page in what is now your favorite book and I asked you Burke, where is the cow? You looked back and forth, and back and forth (there was a big cow on one page with the other adult animals and a calf on the opposite page with the other baby animals). I asked you again, thinking you might not have heard me, not knowing whether you could even understand. Maybe I was asking in futility. But I figured I'd give it a shot. And just about when I was ready to turn the page, thinking it was far too early to expect you to answer me, you placed your pudgy fist right on top of the calf! Needless to say, I thought it was a fluke. So I asked you to do it at least 5 more times...then every day since then. Each time, you point to the calf. Amazing! In addition to the calf, you can now also point to the doggie and the kitty cat. I am so proud of you.

To be fair, you have a slight advantage on other babies in that your Grammy and Pop have a calf just roaming around, grazing in their yard. And every time you visit, you get to see the calf, pet the calf, the calf sucks on your fingers and you get to hear her say moo! You still don't say mama but when I ask you what the cow says, you excitedly say Moo! You are just so smart!

On to the social.

We've been trying to teach you to clap, play pat-a-cake, wave hello and goodbye and do "so big" for a few months now. And this month, you showed us that it hasn't been in vain. First, you started to do "so big." You especially love to do it in your high chair where you smush your face into 16 double chins and super chubby cheeks, while your pearly white teeth poke out of your big smile. Once you discovered the accolades this earned you, you became quite the ham. Doing it all the time. Living it up in the limelight. (You are your Mama's son, here). Soon, waving was incorporated into your "so big" routine. Your chubby fists would open and close while held high above your head in your "so big" pose. This praise earned us even bigger smiles from our favorite boy! Next thing we know, you're clapping one hand on top of the other in your highchair. An odd way of clapping and certainly not the one we modeled for you, but hey--you were clapping! And you were so proud of yourself! And we were so proud of you too.

The "so big"/wave stunt

Your version of clapping
You also took the leap this month (with your growing independence) into table food. You still enjoy being fed, but you will not be satisfied unless you can shove about 20 pieces of food into your mouth at one time. (I'm not sure why I bother cutting your food into such small pieces when it all ends up in your mouth at once anyway). With this increasing dependence on table food, you have turned into quite the social eater. I can now take you anywhere and not have even a slight hesitation about your behavior during a meal. As long as I keep putting food on your tray, you are a happy camper.

Friends. You have them. And you just started noticing them. Up until now, playdates were for the moms only. Pointless for you. But this month, we had a few opportunities to play with some of your buddies and you interacted quite well! Perhaps you're still not sure what they are--the don't look like your doggie, your Mama or your Daddy--but you're having fun discovering them all the same. PS--don't steal their pacifiers.

Finally, my sweet boy, you have begun using your voice, smile, and tears to show your emotions and not just letting me know you have gas or need a diaper change. You love to talk and you do it incessantly. Ooo is your favorite word at the moment, although it has varying inflections. You've become a mama's boy this month too. I'm certainly not complaining (although it does mean I get less sleep now that Daddy can't do the trick during the night). I love every snuggle, hug, sloppy snotty kiss and nuzzle I get! And I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Whew! This month has been a crazy, wonderful, delightfully fun whirlwind of milestones. We have loved every moment and love you so very much.