Thursday, April 19, 2012

reflections on the first year

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken." C. S. Lewis

I've been undone with love, four times over. One thing that I think is universal is that when you have a child, it has your heart. It is both the most wonderful and terrifying experience. A year ago Harper left the safety of his watery womb abode and entered this wide crazy world. I am so very thankful for every day I have with him.

I just put my baby to bed. The same little routine as most nights, he nurses until his eyelids are heavy, we sing Jesus loves me. I turn on his watery noises and give him a kiss. Sometimes he starts to whimper but mostly he drifts off fast. Tomorrow he will be one, a whole year already past, seems strangely fast. When I reflect on this first year with Harper, my heart is so full. I'm smitten, that is all there is to it. The progression of the first year is astounding really. From this tiny, fragile creature pulsing inside my belly to this playful little person taking his first steps toward me like a proud, drunken little robot.

So many thoughts have been written about motherhood, some that resonate with me deeply and others not at all. All I know is my own experience, my story of our first year. I'm not sure if it's because he's number four or because he may possibly be our last (although I pray and hope that adoption is somewhere in our future). This first year with Harper has been an incredible source of joy. He is easy to love. He has creamy skin and big, dark, beautiful eyes the color of coffee and earth. His soft little body wraps around mine like a monkey. He waves with his hand facing himself, claps, says "Ma ma ma," and adores his brother and sisters. I'm astounded at the wordless bond and love conversations we have with our eyes and expressions. All of my other kids slept through the night pretty early on, except for Harper. He still won't take a bottle or cup and is very attached to mama-milk, which is fine with me. I love nursing. It creates reason for me to actually sit in a day and stare at him. We hum and he plays with my fingers and he pauses to look up and smile, such a beautiful way to bond and nourish him. He also has this habit when he's sad of the lower lip tremble. It ruins me. I know he should be asleep or otherwise content but I can not resist the lip tremble, so pitiful:) Until very recently Harper did not sleep through the night. For a long time he had a knack for waking up to nurse as soon as I fell into a deep sleep. It's definitely been an exhausting year, with sleepless nights and school schedules. Napping has proven extremely elusive for me ever since child number two. Yes, child number four put me into a category of tiredness I had not known before. It has not always been easy but Harper's presence has just multiplied the love and joy in our family. I feel that way about all my children, like If I loved them anymore I would burst.
I don't really know how to be a mother. I am always learning, having my firsts right along with them. It is incredibly humbling seeing the selfish parts and weak parts rear their heads in the face of so many little needy people. I know with certainty though that it's an incredible part of the journey and better than any dream and aspiration I could have ever thought up. I have the good Shepherd who gently leads those that are with young and He pours love through me into them. That is all I need.

This" day seems like yesterday.Here's to 365 days of loving you sweet baby. Happy ONE Harper Pax!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

baptizing Harper

Last Sunday was a special day around here. We baptized Harper and we had a big family party to celebrate. It was a deeply meaningful day for us. Josh and I have been so mindful lately of our need to surrender our children to God, to rest in his protection, providence and care for our children. Recently a family in our community lost their two year old son, Atticus, in a tragic accident. Though I didn't know them well, it shook me deeply. As our family prayed for theirs, my mind swirled with questions and sorrow. I was troubled and uncomfortable with some of my own thoughts. If faced with that level of grief, would I be able to cling to the truth of Christ? Would the world just become a cruel, twisted place I couldn't make sense of? I hope I never know that grief but apart from these questions that drifted in like unwanted company, I do know that the God of all truth and life would carry me through the darkness. I kept hearing testimony of the way this family trusted the Lord and their deep faith that this was indeed part of of their son's story and that he is very much alive in Christ. It moved me that even in his death God's glory and comfort was so evident.

This happened right before Easter. Every year at Easter I recall the year that my then two-year-old, Juden, fell sixteen feet from his window. You can read the whole story by clicking here. The short of it is, that after a night spent in the hospital to observe him, he emerged with out a scratch. Every year I think about how different my life could have been and I have these conversations with God that go something like this, "Thank you. He is yours. You write his story. I want to let go and give him back to you. Thank you for entrusting his precious life to me." It is interesting to me how God works things sometimes. Although I didn't plan it when we asked to baptize Harper, it fell on April 15th. Six days to the year since God protected Juden from a tragic accident and also the due date of our first child, whom Jesus took home before birth. He would have been ten. It was a deeply moving day to stand in our little old rickety urban church and witness a physical symbol of water over our baby's head, this Spirit, this cleansing. I have to take a second to tell you how I love my church. It is an ancient building with wonderful light and big arched wooden doors in the back that stay flung open, with the soul sounds of singing wafting out of them. It is full of children and people of all colors and I love that picture of how the Kingdom should be. I take in all these little things because Harper refuses to ever let me sit through a church service. He distracts with all manner of adorable antics until finally every week he goes in the carrier on my chest and I stand outside the back doors bouncing and rocking, bouncing and rocking while church drifts out and seeps into me like water to a weary traveler. Last week we were recognizing our baby as God's child and dedicating him to the Lord. It was beautiful, as Harper looked at our Pastor Jim, a little puzzled with water dripping down his head he turned back to watch the singing congregation. The pureness of that act felt like a cool breeze and my chest hurt with the grace of it. From before they are born we want to protect our kids from every evil and harm the world can throw at them. We do our best to do that, but we can't fully. What sweet relief that our Father who sees even a sparrow fall, loves our children immeasurably. The same God who held Juden six years ago and all of our children, was holding Atticus when he went home to Jesus.

Our hearts were so full on Sunday as we celebrated Harper with a yard full of kids and bubbles and strawberry shortcake. Sometimes the beauty, chaos and wonder of His gifts take my breath away.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

some simple joys

Inspired by Christine over at Dreams of Simple Life... I decided to share a few joys in my day. Life is tragic and messy, heart breaking and achingly beautiful. It's good for my soul to pause and notice, to collect time and say thank you...over and over again.

A few uninterrupted moments, for words and remembering.

The scent of raindrops on honeysuckle...heaven.

My girl, always prepared for the rain.

After dinner walks and mourning dove sounds.

looking up and seeing this, unprompted...

What's bringing you joy in the midst of your storms?