I Am Where I’m Meant to Be

I Am Where I’m Meant to Be

Photo by Marcelo Leal on Unsplash

“I am where I’m meant to be,” I kept telling myself as all my Friday plans were ditched and I succumbed to day two of a migraine.

Things happen for a divine reason and here I was, re-learning what it means to be present. My daughter was home sick and we’d just come through a rough 72 hours.

I walked into the family room to check on her – my daughter-patient – lounging in front of the TV. I was thinking I could console her in some way when she reached her arms up to me. There was a fraction of a smile in her eyes and I realized in an instant, she wasn’t asking for a hug, she was giving one.

“Mom.”

I let myself sink down into the soft couch corner beside her and rested my head on hers, our blond hair commingling on the blue pillows. We exhaled at the same time.

“I need to work on an article,” I said.

“No, you don’t.”

“I also need to write a blog post.”

“No, you don’t.”

“My head still hurts.”

“I know. That’s why you need to just sit here and be a couch potato. With me.”

There is a connection between a mother and her daughter that is unique. And when the nurturer in the daughter is born, it is with a wordless tenderness.

Late night on Shrove Tuesday, my daughter had come down with severe stomach pains. They were bad enough to bring on tears, and she is not the crying type. We rushed to our hospital’s pediatric ER and spent the rest of the night there. She had many ‘firsts:’ her first IV, first ultrasound, and first MRI – as the pain, which she rated an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10 – moved from all over her belly to the lower right quadrant. If you’re guessing appendicitis, so was everyone else.

The tests were all inconclusive, but thankfully, the pain was gradually subsiding by Wednesday afternoon. It seemed to be some weird viral issue. She could go home under the condition that she should return if things got worse or a fever developed. As it turned out, the slight, residual pain would last a few more days, and my mothering eyes didn’t rest until my daughter seemed fully herself once again.

I make it sound like it was all bad, don’t I? It wasn’t.

Ever since I acknowledged my dependence on God so many years ago, I carry within my soul an abiding sense of peace that doesn’t waver, even when circumstances make my mind wander into a land of worry and concern.

So when I pray, the two – mind and soul – are both at work. With my mind, I address the One I know is my ever-ready and ever-present help.

Watching needles going into my daughter’s veins….

Lord, steady her. Please relieve her pain.

As I saw her organs flash across a screen, images in black and white…

Please Lord, help this radiologist to find the problem.

And from my soul, words of praise and hope sometimes bubble up spontaneously. While standing next to the MRI, holding my daughter’s hands, extended above her head as she tried to remain still, my heart and soul sang the songs of my childhood.

Father, I adore You
Lay my life before you
How I love you

I didn’t know what the diagnosis would be, but I had faith that God was there.

He was there in the consoling words of the nurse who made my daughter smile as she put in the IV; in the kindness of the staff who brought us warm blankets so we could try to sleep; and in the gentle eyes of the doctor who listened carefully to the story of my own appendectomy and readily admitted that yes, appendicitis runs in families, so I had every reason to be suspicious when my daughter doubled up in pain.

The goodness God gives to us through the people who cross our paths gets passed on when we give it away.

We are His hands in the world.

And sometimes, His love comes back to us in the form of a needed hug from a daughter-patient.

God is always with us, and our souls want to talk with him.

Our relationship with God depends less on what we do than on which direction we face.

Are we turned toward Him? Or away?

There’s only one place I’m meant to be. Wherever I am, that’s looking up at Him.

When My Daughter Didn’t Want to Be the Explorer

When My Daughter Didn’t Want to Be the Explorer

Kids never cease to surprise, and my daughter gave me a real gem today!

She and one of her best friends happen to be working on an in-class team assignment this week. It entails researching a famous explorer. By Friday, the two girls are to have prepared a short presentation for their peers, and at least one of them is to have a basic explorer ‘costume’ which can fit over the school uniform.

The explorers were chosen for the students. The girls ended up with Sir Francis Drake (1540-1596).

Sir Francis Drake (1540-1569).
Sir Francis Drake (1540-1596).

Today, on the car ride home, my daughter said to me, “So we had this idea for our presentation.”

“Yes?” I inquired.

“Well, Francis Drake had two wives. So we thought we’d dress up like them.”

I held my breath and stifled a disbelieving giggle.

“Was he married to them both at the same time?”

“No. One died.”

This quick answer zapped my funny bone, so I leaned down over the wheel as I steered through downtown Annapolis, desperately trying to make sure my daughter couldn’t see me laugh in the rear view mirror. A comic classroom scene was running amok in my imagination and it just couldn’t be contained.

I asked,”Was one of you planning to stage your death during the presentation?”

Then she laughed, and belted out, “No! But that’s pretty good, Mom!”

The whole car was guffawing now.

She continued, “We were going to dress up one of our American Girl dolls as Francis Drake, but the teacher said ‘No,’ it has to be one of us. He had a beard, Mom. Ick.”

“Oh.”

I didn’t really know what to say just then. I was a little deflated for her. I understand that the point of the assignment is to talk about the explorer’s achievements. I get that. And I don’t want to diminish him or other men in any way.

But I also saw something else in the motives of these two girls – something altogether innocent and lovely: They like being girls. And they thought they could still tell the story – as girls.

There was a time when these thoughts might never have even entered into their minds.

But that wasn’t the case today. Today they wanted to dress up as two women who were there in the wings of history – women who were every bit as real as Sir Francis Drake.

Something about that is good news to me.

Like the lily among thorns, so are you, my love, among the daughters.

-Song of Solomon 2:2 (AMP)

Holy Moments – Day 12 – London Town

I disappointed my daughter today. There was no way I couldn’t have. But this was a very big day, and even when the head understands the facts, the heart sometimes doesn’t.

I had never been on one of her field trips because, as a stay-at-home mom, my full-time job required full-time care of her younger brother. But he just started Kindergarten. So my schedule had freed up. Finally.

Three weeks ago I sent in a form volunteering to be a 4th grade chaperone on today’s day-long class trip to the colonial port of London Town, and I was one of six parents chosen to attend. My daughter was as excited as I’ve ever seen her.

Every single day I heard: “Mom, I can’t wait until” “Mom, it’s going to be so much fun!” “Mom, you’re finally coming!” “Mom, I’m researching colonial hairstyles so I can do my hair.” 

But trouble began to rear its head yesterday when the Kindergartener came home with a stomach ache and a low fever. A fever one day means no school the next. I didn’t panic, but this was not good. Not good at all.

My husband had a huge presentation this morning, so even as I lined up a daytime sitter for my son (no small feat), I prepared my daughter for the possibility that I couldn’t go if her brother’s illness got worse.

She hid her face behind a pillow, giant tears rolling out of her big blue eyes, red blotches of grief creeping up her fair face, and she wailed, “Why?!!! Sick now? Tomorrow??!! Of ALL Days?!!”

Today came and my son woke up with a rash and a higher fever.

I called and told the sitter to come just for the morning – that I would make a cameo appearance at the field trip site for one hour. And then I made a strategic early-morning strike on the doctor’s office and pharmacy to confirm my own motherly diagnosis and then do battle via antibiotics on my son’s attacker: scarlet fever – a form of strep.

Despite the fact that I had told her the plan, my daughter was thrilled when I got to London Town, and crestfallen and angry when I left exactly one hour later. I made the most of it: I took photos of her role-playing a slave in colonial garb, watched her make corn cakes with her hands, and laughed with her when we both saw our first wild groundhog wandering the settlement.

But as I was driving home, I couldn’t get her embittered eyes out of my mind. She was still just so disappointed.

What could I tell her? What could I say to help her through this experience? After all, the day didn’t go the way I’d wanted it to, either.

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I stopped at the supermarket and bought her some mums, then left them in her room with a long note in which I made the following points:

  • Today was tough for both of us, and like you, I am angry, sad and disappointed. But we both love your brother, and in an imperfect world, people get sick. It’s not anyone’s fault.
  • Even though I would have liked to stay with you all day, I am grateful for the time I did have with you, and for your inquisitiveness. You asked thoughtful questions about the role you were playing, and the house we were touring. I am grateful for the chance to watch your graceful hands learn to prepare food, and for hearing your laughter with your friends. Your teacher also said I can come on another trip.
  • Even though it didn’t go the way we’d planned, I had a good day, and I hope in time you’ll remember it fondly too.
  • I know there is an ache in your heart and I couldn’t fill it. But by thinking of the things that you are thankful to God for, you will find that the Lord can heal that ache with joy. When we are grateful, it’s hard to hold on to anger and disappointment.
  • I love you.

Like children, we have much to learn. And we grow in spiritual maturity a little bit at a time. Today, I was reminded that gratitude must be cultivated. It is a slow process but can yield rich rewards.

Thank you God for giving me an opportunity to re-learn this lesson today, and for showing me how to share a grateful heart with my daughter.

 

High Hopes for Women

My daughter’s blonde hair falls in soft waves around her shoulders and a few inches below them onto her back and arms. I’m studying her dewy, perfect skin as she leans on a pile of pillows in a pink cotton camisole and striped flannel pajama pants. Her red glasses frame curious, spirited blue eyes, and she laughs aloud as she reads words, words, words that delight her and inspire her…..to read on….to learn….to love life even more than she already does.

If you’ve ever been transfixed by your daughter in this same way, you know how it feels. I marvel and wonder…Who is she today? Who will she become? What will she hope for? What will she share with the world?

My reveries for my daughter are born of the trust that she will learn, she will have opportunities, and she will live her life in freedom. Blessed am I, indeed.

Now, imagine the horror of seeing your beloved daughter (or wife, sister, mother, cousin, or friend) attacked by an angry mob – a mob who beats her with sticks and stones, drags her under a car, burns her body, and tosses it over a railing onto the rocky banks of a river. This is what happened to Farkhunda last week, a 27-year woman who was murdered in Afghanistan, falsely accused of burning a Koran. I stared at her blood-covered face in the Washington Post yesterday, and thought, “‘[I]n the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.’ (Genesis 1:27)….Made in the image of God.”

Farkhunda studied at an Islamic school and wore the head-to-toe garments conservative Muslim women reportedly favor. Her father said she believed education for women would help them in domestic life. But it seems she was lynched for expressing ideas. So very dangerous in her part of the world.

Everything within me wants to yell, “It’s not fair!!!! Do something! She deserved better! She should have had space and safety to let her mind and spirit soar. She was a gift! Her sisters are too! Don’t you see!!?!?”

But no, they don’t see. The men who killed her didn’t see. The mind of a mob is a terrible thing. Convinced of it’s ‘right’ judgment, it is capable of the worst kinds of cruelty.

But we do, we say. We see. Farkhunda was born with certain inalienable rights – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And governments are instituted among men to secure these rights. How I love the ring and resonance of these words.

Yet, do we see? Do we all see? Are we overlooking the most important point?

If we are to seriously take up the cause for women’s rights in Afghanistan and elsewhere, we must first remember by whom those rights are granted to us. We must raise this Truth in every argument. We cannot lapse in our appreciation of, lapse in our desire for, or lapse in our fervor for, the profession of this Truth. Inherent natural inalienable rights were endowed to Farkhunda by her Creator – The Lord of the Universe – and until the hearts of mankind come to know this Truth, the violence and bloodshed will continue.

Last year, I gave my daughter a gift – a framed verse of a Proverb – which now hangs in her room. It’s there to give her a vision….Of a woman grounded in Truth, fully aware that her pricelessness has been inextricably forged into the fiber of her being, and sure of her purpose in this world because she looks with confidence to the One who brought her into it and promises to be with her in the next.

This verse is my prayer and hope for my daughter, for the women who knew Farkhunda and carried her coffin, and for women everywhere. May the girls of the world be seen for who they are, and for Whose image they reflect.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and she laughs without fear of the future.”
– Proverbs 31: 25

Fighting Imaginary Foes

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We had a great Christmas.  And then, just as regular routines were to return (and I hoped to begin writing again), things went topsy turvy. I’ll spare you the details, but over the last 8 days – one very long week – our household experienced the flu, strep throat, a broken dryer requiring immediate replacement, a small but inconvenient snowstorm, and a birthday – celebrated over 3 days. My thoughts on the birthday, and how it initiated my plan for the new year, is the topic of this blog post – long overdue.

So – my oldest child turned 12 last week. My kids’ birthdays always give me pause.  Each one is a moment to reflect on the fact that with every passing year, this particular child is showing us more of who he or she is meant be.  But this birthday – 12 – somehow felt like a milestone (and not because my son jokingly told me to say he’s “twelve-teen”).

I remember being 12.  6th grade. Switching classes for the first time. Dealing with a changing body. My school’s motto for the year was, “If It’s Going to Be, It’s Up to Me” and my English teacher, Mrs. Walker, had plastered these words in huge red letters to the classroom ceiling. She wanted us to remember this, to have confidence in ourselves.

But with maturity comes the realization that we can’t really solve every problem we encounter, make everything “be” just the way we’d like it to be.  Some things are always beyond our reach.

To illustrate, I must first acknowledge what every parent learns eventually – that it’s strange, humbling, and frustrating when you see that your kids have inherited some of your traits. I’ve known for years that my oldest cannot see a disturbing image, even for a second, without internalizing it. Just like mine, his mind will revisit the image and animate it through nightmares for days on end until it has finished with it.  The process is upsetting and tiring, and after 42 years, I’ve never found a way to bypass or stop it, except by avoiding media that contains content I suspect will incite the problem.

So, just a few days before his 12th birthday, he had nightmares 2 days in a row after seeing 1 still image for an upcoming horror movie. My husband and I talked to him about what his brain was doing, made him laugh, took his mind off things, and I prayed with him.  On the third night, he asked me to pray with him preemptively, before he went to sleep, and that night (and the nights after) the nightmares did not return.

If the genetic patterns hold true for him, then the vivid dreams that have plagued me will not be just a childhood occurrence for this kid.  They will persist and grow more mature as he matures, encompassing all the sights and sounds of an evil world and fears of an adult mind.

So what can I do for my son? I help him understand our faith and teach him to pray for strength and courage to fight foes – imaginary and real, but beyond that, where do I go?

In prayer, the answer came.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 

– 2 Timothy 1:7 

My son is venturing into the adolescent years, and this world would have me be fearful of events to come and what could happen to him.  Currently, these are my imaginary foes, and if I let it, my mind can go to some very dark places.  But I am not going to sit by and worry about my son and the challenges that lie ahead for him.  I choose to trust in the One who loves my son more than me, and so I will ask my Lord to guide and protect my precious child.

Further, praying the Word of God is praying the Will of God.  I pray for my kids, yes, but I want to be quite clear. So, remembering an article I read recently, I took some time to carve out a daily prayer plan for this year, encompassing specific verses of scripture for my sons and daughter, and entrusting them once again to the One for whom nothing is out of reach.

 

Articles about praying for your children:

“10 Prayers For Your Son” by Brooke McGlothlin and Lisa TerKeurst

10 Prayers For Your Son

“10 Prayers For Your Daughter” by Lisa TerKeurst

10 Prayers For Your Daughter