Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christi Redeemer

We were in a little Cessna flying over Rio de Janeiro.  It was breathtaking—the hillsides, the boats on the blue water with snow white beaches, the little villas, the Catholic churches with ornate steeples, the Christi Redeemer, and the lush green forests.  It was picture perfect clear visibility, and then...

A bank of clouds. We were cloaked in white, and it was only my sister and I in a single engine plane.  We hardly knew how to operate the thing, much less without visual flight rules. Panic rose inside me.

Enough panic to wake me from my dream. I wasn’t in Brazil.  I might visit a close friend there soon, but I'm not crazy enough to fly around in a Cessna with my sister!

So why did the dream leave me uneasy this morning?  I thought about two women in my life, both undergoing scary procedures today.  

One has an outpatient procedure to figure out why her throat keeps closing in which gives her scary episodes of blocked breathing, and another with a inflammation in her lymph nodes embedded around her lungs. It could mean a dangerous disease.  Both women are mothers with beautiful children who need them just as my children need me.

Illness can hit anyone out of the blue like the bank of clouds in my dream. That's scary in itself, but imagine these women having to trust doctors while they are put under. It's like turning off your visual controls in an airplane and trusting the air traffic controllers. 

4:30 AM.  Their surgeries would be in a few hours. You think, maybe my dream was a call to pray?   

Lord, please carry my two friends today as they go through their tests and surgeries.  Keep them and their families confident in it all.  These procedures take place everyday all around the country and the doctors are well practiced.  Nevertheless, only part of the confidence comes from their skill.  Most of our confidence is in Your Sovereignty, Lord.  Lord, I ask for Your special Presence in those operating rooms, and that these ladies and their families feel that Presence and are covered in warm confidence by It.  That You walk them through every moment of the procedures and move the hands that work on them with such delicate balance that the procedure gives them answers they need and does it in such a way that they are free of pain once the procedures are over— that they recover quickly and have answers from the tests. Answers that put them on roads to solutions that will have them living their lives and mothering their children just as they did before their health issues began in the first place. I love these families, and I love You, Lord, and I pray humbly believing.  Amen.

Amazing how I could then go back to sleep having accomplished what He woke me to do.  Praying for others relaxes your own heart and gives you rest in Him. We are carried in His hands and our protection is ultimately with Him, not in this world.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

"We have the best Christmas family!"

Aren't these words every mom wants to hear?   Can you believe I had the joy of hearing this from my eight year old on Sunday evening?

With Christmas music blaring over speakers throughout the house, the four boys and I were on our fifth hour of putting up the Christmas decorations.  I was just marveling at how few arguments the boys had, and how the whole day they stayed focus on the fun of the lights and holly.  No one grumbled.  Everyone helped.  "How is that?" I asked myself, remembering some of the arguments my brothers and sisters and I had while putting up decorations long ago.

I don't pretend that the future might hold something very different.  You never know what will be when there are four boys in the mix.  But for now, we so incredibly blessed.  So blessed.

So blessed.  Those words ran through my head just as Christian, as if to read my mind, looked up from his string of colored lights and said, "Mom, we have the best Christmas family ever!"

"Why is that, Christian," I asked, partly wanting to figure out what's in this child's head to make him say such a random sweet thought, but secretly wanting to find answers myself....  why is it, after the heavy blow our family took two years ago, we feel truley happy right now?  How?

"Because we only ask Santa for one present," Christian answered with a matter-of-fact smile.

From the mouths of babes.  That was Tom's legacy.  Appreciate what we have on our plates and don't demand more.  Just choose to be happy.

Tom and I unplugged that Christmas machine years ago, and decidedly made Christmas cozy and light.  It started years ago when Tom's teenagers told me something that rang true for me.  Christmas became a disappointment when they became teens.  It's only normal - the way people are wired.  When you start young kids off on a diet of present after present after present... mostly affordable toys, they begin to find the glow of Christmas only in the shine from the foil wrapping.  Once the toys for teenagers get more expensive, there aren't as many.  Less foil, less fun.

That's because it was the wrong fun.

It was bling.  Empty bling. That's why we unplugged the bling.  Now everyone gets one present.  Two if you include Santa!   Hey, with four boys, that's already eight gifts, and they're just as happy sharing their toys with each other... it's still fun!

Meanwhile, here's some other benefits!   No more panicking at 1 in the morning on Christmas because we hadn't gotten all those presents wrapped!  Less shopping.  No demands from the kids.  In fact, now that the boys only get one or two gifts, they don't even make lists.   They start to, and then stop and smile and say, "no, just surprise me!"  And best of all, the presents they get are quality.  Like a puppy, or a cell phone, or a cotton candy maker.  Something that can be and is used all year round.

I know what I want this year for Christmas.  For my boys to keep that family bond, forever!

Lord, please give me one gift this Christmas.  Protection.  Protect the family bonds we have.  I love it Lord, that the boys each have three best friends- each other.  They have many other friends, but they love their home.  It's safe, it's happy.  Please Lord, don't give me more, just keep blessing me with what You've already given me!

Merry Christmas!

Here are some of the snapshots that didn't make it on the card this year...

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