Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Josiah in the Tub

My husband, Mark, does baths in our house. I can do them. I have done them. But, in our family, baths are Mark’s domain. When our children were babies, we knew that it would take some effort for our kids to see Daddy as an equal, capable parent given the fact that he was working outside of our home and I was around the children 24 hours a day. So, Mark became the King of the night. : ) Starting after dinner and going on til morning, he does the lion’s share of “hands-on” kid care and I regroup for the next day. It has worked out well for us in a lot of ways… and a little one with a scraped knee can take a kiss from mommy OR daddy to be miraculously healed.

The past few weeks have been a little crazy here and Mark and I have both had to step up and cover for one another’s normal daily tasks. My speaking has called me away for several nights in a row putting Mark on night AND day call in my absence. Mark has been swamped in meetings for the school board and our local youth baseball league So, it was due to this current craziness that I found myself juggling our four children through baths and showers just the other night. We have a tub/shower in the “kid’s bathroom” and a shower in the bathroom in our master bedroom. So, the cycle began… Elizabeth in the tub with Epsom salts and lavender essential oils to prepare her busy body for a night of rest… Benjamin in the shower coming up with a way to use a wash cloth to stop the water from draining… potentially causing a flood! Benjamin out, drain restored, Noah in. Elizabeth out, dried, hugged, tucked tightly in her bed and then Josiah in. I am grateful that the bathrooms are near one another making it easy to bop out of one bathroom and into the next. With Benjamin reading in bed, Elizabeth winding down, Noah fully reminded to use SOAP and SHAMPOO while showering, I finally sat down in the bathroom with Josiah. He had previously been scrubbed and was now just floating in lukewarm water, studying the wonder of bubbles up close. Completely entranced, he truly barely knew I was nearby and for several minutes, I had the opportunity to watch my youngest boy play, think, wonder and unwind.

We are people who seek balance but we rarely get it right. Truth be told, many days our lives are too full and too busy and we spend far too much time running through this thing to get ourselves to whatever might be next. With a house full of four children, Mark and I are called to the juggling and to the corralling more often than we are left to find ourselves with a minute to just sit and watch. But, on this night, full as it was, I found one of those minutes and sat to revel in the chance to look lovingly on my son and fight all the urges to rush upward and onward again.

Josiah, in the tub, had a funnel turned pointy side up. He would quickly push the funnel into the water, sending bubbles rushing out the top like a baby soap scented, benign volcano. More bubbles to watch… and time ticking by. Josiah sang a little then… not so much for me as in spite of me. He acted out his spontaneous tune and his arms went high above his head in some movement of praise. He sang to God, about God and because of God and I got to watch. When he was done and he looked my way, I asked him if he was ready to get out and he calmly nodded his head. I was ready with jammies and a nice warm towel and he climbed right out… and then hesitated.

“Momma, can I please watch the swirl?”

Momentarily confused about the meaning of these words, I glanced at my watch and thought briefly about bedtime. And then, there stood my son… waiting for my word. Understanding, and remembering my own childhood, I nodded and smiled and his face lit up as he climbed back into that now tepid bath and settled down for the highlight of his night.

The drain was out and the water was rushing headlong out of the tub. Josiah lay down on his belly, face hovering above the drain and then gently began to swirl the water around, in hopes of jump starting the liquid tornado that was now the center of his world.

I sat back down and just watched. I watched my son at peace and at play and a host of thoughts and memories washed quickly over me. I marveled at the perfection of him… and thanked God that he is as healthy and strong and smart as he is. Please understand, I am not singing the praises of my child… But, this child has had a different road than many. This child, my final pregnancy, is the only one of my children who underwent prenatal testing. This child held a higher than average chance of having Down Syndrome, according to the doctor running the test. This child, born without Down Syndrome, was born with an arm that hung limply at his side from a birth that was harder than any of us could have prepared for at the time. This 5 year old in the bathtub, with two arms that now work and can be raised in praise, is that same child. And that, to me, is a miracle.

Josiah watched the swirl and I watched him. When he was done and the minutes were well spent, I dried him off and snuggled him into his fleece pajamas made warm in that steamy room. I combed his hair and kissed his nose and was thankful for a minute to focus on just one child in the midst of parenting four.

The time I spent in the bathroom with Josiah was less than 10 minutes but I lived a lifetime in that time. At the end of night, I was still tired. My house was a mess and my kids spent too much time talking in their beds before finally falling asleep. But, at least for that one night, I saw it all from a different perspective. I get distracted sometimes and forget what is important. I sometimes think that organization and manners matter more than sitting and watching and finding a quiet place to remember how it all began… because they all have stories… all my kids have stories and journeys and heartaches that have made them who they are. I want to store them up, these past experiences and struggles… but I do not want to leave them sealed up in a faraway place. I want to have access to them so I don’t forget to stop and see how far we have come and how wonderful… no, “WONDER-FULL”, it really, really is.

Mark is the one who does bath time… but if he sometimes has a meeting and must be called away, maybe that is not such a bad thing after all. : )

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Passion Week Calendars

I wanted to provide a quick update for those of you who ordered Passion Week Calendars while attending the Hearts at Home National Conference. As you know, our entire Passion Week Calendar inventory sold out quickly at Hearts at Home. We could never have guessed that there would be such a high interest level for this item but I am thrilled that there was!

Immediately upon returning from Hearts at Home, we began reproducing the calendar and hope that we can begin mailing soon. The calendars are not yet complete but each person who ordered one during the conference will be getting them as soon as we can get them completed. We have not forgotten and are still hard at work!

Also, please know that I will be creating a similar product for use during Advent. This item will be available at both Fall Hearts at Home conferences and through my website. I will post about it when it is available so if you are interested in something like this, please be sure you are on my RSS feed so you will get the news!

Hearts at Home

Two weeks ago, I had the extraordinary opportunity to speak at Hearts at Home. If you have not heard about Hearts at Home, I encourage you to check out their site at: I have known for nearly a year that I would be speaking at the National Conference and have been excited to partner with an organization that I deeply respect. The conference went well and I had a total blast. : ) A couple of thoughts on the whole thing…

-First, there is something amazing about working with women of vision and passion. I cannot even begin to tell you all about the incredible women I met during the two days of the National Conference. There was a kindness, an enthusiasm, a camaraderie that made the conference more than I could have hoped it would be. I was blessed by the wisdom and experiences of the other speakers and encouraged by the journeys that brought each of them to this place.

-Secondly, there is something deeply moving about seeing some 5,000 other mommas all show up in one place, driven by their deep desire to do their best for their babies. I am humbled by the women who came to me to share a bit of their story during Hearts at Home. I am just really touched to know that I do not walk through this parenting alone… but am instead joined by THOUSANDS of women, just like me, who question and seek and worry and pray and do all of this with their heads full of children.

-Thirdly, I was reminded about the importance of friendship. I will forever be grateful for my dear friends who dreamed with me, listened to me and encouraged me throughout the whole Hearts at Home experience. How awesome it was to have friends attending the conference with me! As I think through the weekend, I am overwhelmed by their kind words and understanding presence and I am really thankful.

-Lastly and most importantly, I am grateful to a God who knows that tears and laughter both have a place in our life… To a God who knows us intimately and has in His gracious hands the path we must follow to do what we must do. I felt His presence in rooms filled with hundreds of women and in conversations one on one. I felt His presence in the planning for the weekend and in the living it out. I felt His presence and heard His words in the voices of speakers and attendees and volunteers and it was GOOD.

Hearts at Home is an amazing organization and I am blessed to be working with them this year. If you missed this conference, the Fall holds two more, one in Grand Rapids, MI and one in Rochester, MN. I will be there and hope to see you too!

A New Spot

Hi all,
After fussing with Yahoo's blog service for way too long, we are going to give this a try! Hopefully, you are following me over from the Yahoo blog and we can just continue our conversation in this new place.

Welcome to all and on we go!