I looked up at you today after lunch. I looked and I thought and the tears stood on the edge of their seat, held back only by a Momma’s will not to get all emotional on you. I sat there and tried to remember what I felt ten years ago; the day before we were scheduled to go in and be induced. It was a Sunday; so, we would have been returning home from serving at the Youth Ministry in Versailles. I remember we were excited, feeling some small (probably mentally-induced) contractions. I think we went out to eat, celebrating our last night out together as “just us.” We were driving around, timing those silly, little contractions, and just…waiting. Well, and then we just couldn’t wait any longer. So, we called the hospital and they said we could come on in since we were scheduled to be there by 7 a.m. anyway.
After a little sleep, a bag of broken water, and 4 hours, there you were! I have this picture your dad took of you and me. Me, trying to lay back and catch some rest; you all curled up in my arms. I look so young in that picture; I was. I didn’t even know how to really be married yet (we were only 10 months in), and I really had no idea how to be a mom. No, I didn’t, but I didn’t want anyone else to know that. (They all knew.)
I remember that first early morning in the one-room cabin by the lake. You and I got up before Dad; I fed you milk and The Living Water that morning. I wish I could remember the scripture I shared with you; all I know is that I read it with conviction and trembling and hope. The days that followed were messy. I worked, Dad worked and attended school, we moved, Dad left work to step out in faith, we moved again, and 9 months later I got pregnant again. Between those points of interest were days and nights of exhaustion, of post-pardum emotions of anger, sadness, and desperation, of constant change, of “if’s” and “why’s” and “how’s.” We were two kids having kids.
You were quite the spoiled little boy around the college; being held and played with all the time. You were my first boy…my first child…and just like the Velveteen Rabbit in the hands of his boy, I started to become real when you were really mine. I started to feel what I had never felt before. I was stretched and rubbed raw and real in ways I had never known. The hard and masked places in me began to soften at your touch.
I didn’t realize it was happening until it happened; over time, all while I thought I was holding it all together, I began to break. Didn’t Jesus say something about a seed not beginning to grow unless it died in the ground first and then broke open. You can hold hand-fulls of seeds but unless they are put in the dark places and experience the dying of themselves and the brokenness needed, you will never have a harvest. And the thing about dying to self and being broken is…it hurts. It hurts the person it is happening to and it usually hurts the people around her. No one is left untouched when a young mom is broken and spilled out in all her unholy mess. It’s either be crushed under death or held together by Life Himself.
A little over a year ago now you asked Christ to come into your heart. There. is. no. greater. joy! Little boy, you became big to me that day. Not only can I call you Son, I can now call you Brother for all eternity. You had been learning Christ for eight years then. Eight years of putting your arms around your broken momma and extending forgiveness better and quicker and more complete that most know how. Since then we have waded through inconsistent Bible studies, prayer times, thankful journals, and scripture memorization. It’s all been a bit like scattering seed…here and there and everywhere. And even though we have been hit or miss when it comes to daily rhythms of living this Grace Walk, I see that there were many days that the seeds hit the good soil. Dark and unseen but good. You’ve been making observations about the ways of God and of people; you’ve been asking questions about the real life we live and about the real God we serve. You have had your own moments of brokenness, repentance, forgiveness, and restoration. You have healed after the hurt and laughed after the pain. And tomorrow I will wake up and see you as ten.
You were eight when you asked Jesus to live in you, and for eight more years I get to live with you. It’s not enough, Little Man. Eight years, eighteen, or eighty – none would give me the time I need or yearn for with you. If I am real with myself, with you, and with God, I must say this: I want a do over! I want a chance to be a different, better me for the same wonderful you. I want to go back and be the mom who knows how to handle sleepless nights and who knows how to be selfless; the mom who is quick to listen and slow to get angry. I want to play more and complain less; I want to laugh more and frown less. I want to say ‘yes’ more and ‘no’ less. I want to seek your heart more and know exactly how to do that! I just want a chance to get it right; to love you right. But, knowing me, I’d get most of it wrong all over again.
I read this this morning. Our Father must have known what this mother would need.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, 5 made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! 6 Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, 7 so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them. Eph 2:4-10 HCSB
I will never get it right (I shared with a fellow mother today), but He did! And every time I caused a gash or gap in your life, Christ stood ready to fill it with Himself. He still does. If in this way, this Romans 7-8 way, I create a way for you to know Him more because of your need for Him more, well, then, I can rest, safely assured, and in hope that He Who began a good work will complete it in Christ Jesus!
Today, you woke up at 5 a.m. all excited over this day – your birthday. I was up feeding your sister, trying to catch a few more moments of sleep. I’ve been doing this for 10 years now – getting up against all physical capable-odds and trying to pour out something nourishing into such an impressionable, fragile being. I used to say Aaron (#3) got the best mommy, but then came your sisters. By this time I find I don’t sleep through the night on my own anymore anyway, so attitudes I used to deal with at being woken up don’t flare like they did when you were newborn. I still flare up during the day-time hours on occasion, though. I know it happens less now, as I see the shock in your sister’s face when Mommy has one of her moments. I suppose that comes with maturity for most; for me it has come only by His active grace and patience. (He’s still teaching His woman-child, who’s much older than you!) I guess what I’m trying to say is this:
You are an amazing son despite all the ways my sin could have ruined you. In fact, you are an amazing son period. You are an amazing son, exclamation point! From the time you could understand that something was wrong as your mother sat crying, you have reached out to me with your loving hands and brought love and comfort. Ten years of raising this girl into a woman…into a Mommy. I think you are supposed to be the fruit of my womb, of my years of planting and watering, but as the years carry on, Son, I see the real reality. I am the product of all the grace in you: all the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control that you have extended to me. You bless me, Little Mister…more than words.
You stated a couple of Wednesday nights back that you weren’t going to college because you didn’t want to leave me. We had a good laugh over that, your Dad quickly countering that train of thought. But a mom, Christopher – just like Jesus’ mom – a mom treasures these things in her heart. I know different. You will leave one day…too soon, I might add! You will leave because your name means “gift or called of God,” and Christopher, you are called by Him to bring the greatest Gift to the world. I love seeing your face and eyes and mind light up as we read the biographies of David Livingstone and Hudson Taylor. I love that you stop to look at pictures with your “missionary-at-heart-momma”; pictures of starving and malnourished and abused and abandoned and sick children. I love that you want to buy Bibles and pass them out to our neighbors, along with homemade cinnamon rolls. I love that you love people and want to be with them so easily. (Your mom still has one-minute panic attacks before getting together with people.) Yes, one day you will go, but forever I will remember that you wanted to stay because you loved me. A true reflection of Christ, right there!
Happy Birthday, Christopher David!
Today we will eat coffee cake and eggs and birthday cake and probably pizza. Today you will open gifts that reflect your heart – a warrior for His kingdom. Today you will remind me all over again why this choice to be Mom to you and your siblings, day in and day out, is no small calling. It isn’t my second choice or plan B. It isn’t less than what my favorite missionaries are doing; it isn’t stealing all my time away from being this or doing that. Today you will show me once again how you plus four more have made me richer than I could ever imagine. Today, on your tenth birthday, I will once again receive the greater gifts, and I will refuse to miss one of them. I will awaken to every smile, every touch, every hug, every laugh, every bit of excitement. I will thank Him for every treasure – every grace.
The leaves are turning golden out the back and front windows. Orange and red are my Autumn-leaf preferences, but today is “golden”! So, I take notice of how all around in The Rockies, trees are being crowned with gold; a true testimony of our Savior, Christopher. Every week when we take communion together I have you tell me what the bread and juice represent. When we get to the juice you and your brothers and sister say, “For Jesus’ blood because He had nails in His hands and feet…and a crown of thorns on His head.” His crown was twisted wood then, but Son, don’t ever forget, one day we will see Him crowned with greater than gold! Spend your one earthly life leading people to see the Autumn trees. Lead them to the rough, bark covered wood that splinters and rots, and then have them turn their heads upward. Let them see their future in the Lover of their souls…let them see gold!