Amazing Grace

It was late. I couldn't sleep. I tossed and turned, flipped my pillow over; got up, used the bathroom and curled back up in bed. And then, just as I was finally drifting pleasantly into that space between consciousness and sleep-like-a-log, I heard a voice call out.

"Moooooooom! Moooooooooooomy!" she moaned.

I tried my usual reaction: pillow over my head, silent not-so-kind words directed toward anyone who has ever told me to "cherish these moments because they go by too fast". But something about this particular whimper drew me in, compelling me to throw off the blanket of laziness and the "but what about my sleep" grumblings that have become so familiar to me in the wee hours of the morning. Reluctantly, I made my way into my eight year old's room and found her fast asleep. She thrashed once, turned over and then stillness.

Irritated, I was about to walk away when I noticed an unmistakable smell. Gas. Natural gas. Stovetop gas. I-will-explode-if-you-fail-to-get-rid-of-me gas. In my semi-comatose state, I thought maybe it was just the less than savory fish bowl on her dresser. I took it to the bathroom but the smell remained. Fully alert now, I made my way downstairs where I found one of the stovetop burners on just enough to pour gas into our house. I threw open windows, thankful for the twenty-one degrees that came blustering inside and then diligently went room to room, checking on kids, sniffing the air: no smell of gas anywhere except in the random bedroom upstairs.

Sleep alluded me. I read, I prayed, I thanked God for the voice beckoning me to follow. I promised myself that I'd never feel the same aggravation about kids waking me in the night. Ever again. I tried to get back to sleep but I couldn't forget the smell still lingering in my daughter's room. I shuddered at the what ifs. After another hour I heard her call out again. Moooooom! This time, I jumped out of bed, making good on my promise, and scrambled into her room. She was still sound asleep. But the smell was now gone which made room for peace to reenter the night. Sleep soon followed.

Friends, I can't claim for certain that it was an act of God. I can't tell you for sure whether it was an experience of divine intervention or a very fortunate coincidence. But what I do know is that no matter what condition we are in, no matter where we find ourselves, when we hand over our reluctance and respond to the call, God's awesome grace can begin to work its incredible wonders. Simply by showing up, we receive. Blessing after blessing. Grace after grace. And as it turns out, it is an amazing, life-giving grace. One that truly saves.

(And for the record, while my attitude about night-time wakings may have been slightly altered by this experience, when my boys woke me an hour early the next morning, I must admit, it took me a good long moment to allow that same gentleness to enter my heart, preventing me from grounding them from all they love for the rest of their lives here on earth so help them God!......Hey, no ones perfect!)


Getting closer...

Last night at dinner:

Liam jumps out of his seat, scrambles over to get in Lilly's face and right before he is about to implode from excitement he says, "Wanna watch hockey with me? The Penguins are on!"

"Who are they playing?" she asks as if she actually cares.

"The Trees!" he says jubilantly.

I look at Kurt in confusion. "The Trees?" I ask while images of the Stanford mascot and Dancing on Ice collide with a Pittsburgh goon in my mind. Not so graceful.

"They play the Maple Leafs," he explains.

"Ooooh, riiiiiight." (Should've known!)

For your weekend: May all your mistakes be trivial and may there be someone around to make light of them so that you, too, may be filled with laughter. And may the joy in humility lead you to grace.

Happy Weekend, Dear Readers!


Animal Issues

Chickens are apparently a pretty hot topic in some places:
"More than 30 people chimed in with their opinions on raising chickens, their cleanliness, the potential for attracting predators and property values. All but a few said that they fervently supported more chicken-raising.
Several officials said that in their many years on the village council, they have received more input from residents about chickens than any other issue, including water rates, municipal budgets or the storm water utility." -- reported today by the Downers Grove local section of the Chicago Tribune 
(I'm not sure where they get their chickens but personally I cannot attest to their cleanliness and I can tell you for sure that they do very little for property values.....at least chickens of the human variety.....)
Lately our little ones have had their own issues with animals. Or should I say, issues with correctly identifying animals. 
The other day I was looking out the kitchen window when far off I saw a family of deer. 
"Hey look, a deer!" I exclaimed. The pitter-patter of swiftly moving feet brought three children next to me. 
"That's not a deer, Mom," Lilly said after jumping up on the counter. "That's a fox."
"Lilly, that is not a fox. That is a deer," I stated matter-of-factly. 
"No Mom, it has pointy ears. It's a fox," she argued.
"I want to see the fox," Liam screeched, jumping up and down next to me, trying to peer through the window.
"Guys, it is not a fox. It is a deer," I repeated as I lifted him up. 
That's when Solomon started tugging on my pants and yelling: "I want to see the tiger! I want to see the tiger!" 
Ooooh, so close. 
Liam's fifth birthday is fast approaching. And while he is still tiny and has trouble being understood when he speaks, he has recently began acting all sorts of grown up. And by grown up I mean he has become increasingly addicted to any and every sport on television, often watching the same soccer, football or hockey game over and over until he can tell you about every scoring play as if he had done it himself. Or at least we think that is what he is talking about. We pretty much understand: "TOUCHDOWN! Then-it-was-6-to-zero-and-they-kickeditanditwas7tozeroandtheywerewinningand......"
Hockey season just started and so now he is constantly asking if he can watch it. Like today:
"Mom, can I watch golfing?" he asked.
"Golfing? You mean hockey," I corrected.
"Yeah, the Penguins. Can I watch the Penguins and the Bunnies?" he went on.
"Um, the Bunnies?" I inquired, quizzically.
"Um, no, I mean the Rabbits," he said with a slight hesitation in his voice. 
"The Rabbits?" I asked again.
"No, no, I mean the Reindeers. Can I watched the Penguins and the Reindeers?" 
"OOOOOH, you mean the Penguins and the Rangers!"
"Yeah! Yeah! The Rangers! Can I watch that game now?"
Perhaps I need to add a little more animal and team identification to my chicken raising..... 



Bad Idea #3,249

In case you are wondering, it is not a good idea to take your kids to the Target Clinic for flu shots at 6:30 p.m. on a Monday night.....In 6 degree weather.

It's especially rocky when you arrive at Target, see the number one parking spot open but find you can only squeeze your SUV into it by jumping up on the curb because of another car terribly parked in the adjacent spot. Then, upon going to get the children out of the car, you have this conversation:

"Ok, come on, Lilly."

"Um, Mom, I forgot my jacket," she says, not budging.

"Really Lilly?" I say, feeling the impatience rising like lava. "Just come on, the rest of us are getting cold."

"Well, Mooom, I brought my blanket. Can't I just wrap it around me?"

"No, Lilly. We are not bringing your blanket into the store. Just get out and we'll run really fast inside. This is the closest parking space so it won't be too bad," I answer.

"But Moooom, I don't have shoes and socks either!"

At which point the lava began to seethe through the cracks that were my nerves. After lecturing "What about 'shoes, socks, jackets, going to Target' didn't you understand?" I have to question my sanity when I scoop her up with my Solly-free arm, bundle her in the blanket, stick her in a cart and take her in anyway. And then, finding we are the 9th-12th people in line, I decide to stick it out and wander the store for twenty minutes putting us well past Solly's bedtime (always makes for much more entertaining flu shots.)

Upon arriving back at the clinic, I am called over to the desk and told they only have shots, no flu-mist left. While that is not a problem for the majority of our crew, I eye Lilly, recalling the last time we did this. (Think: three nurses holding down one flailing, screeching child.)

"No problem," I say, stubbornly refusing to just call it a night.

We follow her back into the room. I go first. Next, Liam bravely watches the shot go in his arm. He doesn't flinch, although for a very brief second the smile straightens on his face. I then grab Solly and the nurse quickly administers the shot. His one tiny tear is interrupted by Lilly who is now crouching in a corner, a chair pulled over her head, yelling, "No, no, no, no, I am not getting a shot, nooooooooooo!!!" She begins a regimen of kicking and clawing and anything else she can think of to keep us away.

The nurse looks at me and says, "I'll just go get the other nurse now," and leaves the room. By the time they come back I have Lilly pinned down on the table. She is red faced and from the outside, I imagine it sounds like we are amputating her bare feet sans anesthesia.

After trying to get Lilly to relax, the nurse shrugs, finds Lilly's fully flexed shoulder and jabs in the needle as well as one could expect. Lilly gets very quiet.

"Well, that wasn't so bad," she says, hopping off the table. "Can I pick out a treat now?"

Next year, I think we may just take our chances.


And Then She Said....

The kids and I were talking about Godparents recently when Lilly asked:

"Mom, if you and dad both died, who would we live with?"

I could tell she was worried about being split up from her siblings, everyone going to the different Godparents and what not, so I explained to her that all of them would go to one family together.

"So, we wouldn't be able to go to Eagle Ridge anymore for school?" she asked.

"No, you wouldn't live here anymore so you wouldn't be at the same school," I told her.

She was silent for a moment and then said, "Well, I sure hope you don't die this year then because I have a REALLY GOOD teacher!"

Gee Lilly, thanks. If your wishes are taken into consideration, I sure hope you have REALLY GOOD teachers for the next, say, 65 years or so!


New Year's Revolution (Or, Conversations With a 6 Year Old)

"Mom," Lilly says on January 1st. "Are we going to make our New Years Revolutions?" Images of kids overtaking our house and overturning our parental rule bounce around the walls in my brain.

"You mean resolutions, Lilly," I correct her.

"Sure, whatever," she says. (Apparently she isn't the kind to go all revolutionary on us after all.)


"Mom, today in art I made lollipops for people.......And pickaxes," Lilly told me after picking her up from the gym one day.

Oh yes, the sweet combination of lollipops and pickaxes. And that's what little girls are made of (contrary to what the old nursery rhyme may have told you).


"Mom?" Lilly asked quite seriously on the way back from soccer. "If your eye ball was out of your head and just hanging there, and you closed your other eye, could you still see out of the dangling one?"

Hee hee hee.....seriously folks. How can you keep a straight face with questions like these?

"Um, well, I don't know Lilly," I said, as seriously as I could manage. "If all the nerves are still connected and there isn't too much swelling or bleeding or....um, I don't know if you could or not."

"Well, it's probably not a good idea to try it out to see, right?" she asked. Ha, no pun intended.

"Right, Lilly," I agreed. "That's definitely not one you want to see for yourself."


And later, I was reading the latest installment of Experience Life Magazine, the magazine associated with our gym (which just this month featured one of my dearest friends, Deb, whom I have referred to quite a bit.....check it out here!) and in the back of the magazine the CEO of Lifetime wrote about New Year's Revolutions.....really. (It's creepy actually how often I have a conversation or write something in the blog and then the very next month, Experience Life runs a story or article on that very thing.....like my To-Don't list, or when I recently took up fasting weeks BEFORE the magazine covered the idea as a fitness tool.) So, dear readers, my daughter might excitedly make pickaxes and talk about dangling eye balls, but she apparently is totally in vogue. Just like her mother......hee hee. (Only kidding.)