Yellow Lab Advice

As I was driving Sean to school yesterday morning, I spotted a man jogging with his dog.

I didn’t take notice of the man, but the dog caught my eye. It was a Yellow Lab. I took a second look in my rear view mirror as I drove slowly past. In his mouth, the dog had a dirty tennis ball. He had his tail high in the air. He seemed to be smiling. He would occasionally look up at his master, step a little higher and wag his tail. This dog, he was radiating joy. Contentment. Happiness. He had everything he needed. He was with his most favorite person in the world and he had a toy ready in case someone wanted to play.

I think God put Labs on earth to remind us that we don’t really need as much as we think we do to be happy. All we really need is to be with the people we love. And maybe a toy in case someone wants to play.

Living Beyond

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Since my mother’s sister died in January, my cousins have been dealing with the exhausting task of going through their mother’s belongings. There is a lot of agonizing and sorting and deciding that must be done when trying to dismantle the accumulation of a lifetime.

In a package of things they returned to my mother, there was a picture of me when I was about the same age that Sean is now. When my mother came out to visit recently, she gave the picture to me. I hadn’t seen the picture before and when she handed it to me I was struck by how much of Sean I saw in my own face. Not so much in features, although there is certainly some of that, but something beyond that. Something that can’t be described in words or explained by genetics. Something impish behind the eyes, an almost imperceptible curl of the lip or lift of the brow — something so intimate that it can only be discerned from having looked into a mirror for 47 years.

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As I held the picture in my hand, peering 44 years back into time, it made my knees weak to see the likeness of my son in my own three-year-old face. I could only think about how in the weaving of the great tapestry of life, God himself picks and chooses tiny filament threads to carry over from parent to child, from one generation to the next, binding us all together through the ages with the double helix of DNA or some other invisible something that is not yet known to man.

I thought about how it is through Sean and the miracle that is his life that I might possibly live beyond my own allotted days on this earth and into a future I will not know and can’t anticipate or comprehend, a time that will be attended to by faces that I will never see, whose names I will never know. I will return to the dust from whence I came. No matter how remarkably I live out my life, sooner rather than later, time will erase every trace and memory that I was here….

Except maybe… at some appointed time in a distant future, God will craft another funny face with something impish behind the eyes and an imperceptible curl of the lip or lift of the brow. And then, even though I might have been forgotten, I will not be gone.

Sticky Prayers

I remember my mother’s prayers and they have followed me always. They have clung to me all my life. ~ Abraham Lincoln

Sean’s first school year officially ended last night with a little graduation ceremony for the five year olds who will be leaving the pre-school and moving on to kindergarten. The younger kids “sang them out” just as the losers on American Idol do. Well, more accurately, all the other kids sang out the grads. Sean stood on the stage and did an impression of Lot’s wife.

As all the five year olds marched across the stage in their adorable little caps and gowns, I wept. I don’t even have a kid in the graduating class and I cried. I am pathetic. I am normally not that much of a cryer, but lately ceremonies seem to prick that tender part of my heart and remind me that time slips like water through my fingers.

As each child marched across the stage to receive their diploma, the teacher announced where they would be going to school next year and what their career plans were. One boy wanted to drive a dump truck, another wanted to study to be a ninja. One girl wanted to be a princess, another a ballerina. Perhaps Abraham Lincoln wanted to be a ninja too.

The path laid before Sean may lead him to drive a truck or drive him to lead a nation — it is not mine to know or to choose. I know God has a plan for this boy and I’m going to try my best to not get in the way, but rather to walk along side him, holding his hand for as long as he’ll let me.

After that, I’ll just have to hope that my prayers follow him and cling to him always.

This post was published in May of 2006 ~ Antique Mommy

The New Oliver Twist

Since Sean was an itty bitty guy, we have always kept him with us in church during services rather than put him in the nursery. And it’s hard work. Letting him play in the nursery would be much much easier. Little boys are naturally noisy and busy, but our philosophy is that learning to sit still is a life skill that requires practice and example. And so largely due to the efforts of Antique Daddy, Sean does fairly well on Sunday mornings. Occasionally someone will take the time to compliment us on his good behavior and it reminds us that it’s worth the effort. We’ve never once had to take him out of the service. Until Sunday.

I don’t know if it was the time change or the fact that the jasmine was in bloom, but that little boy was as wild as March hare. The usual distraction tactics of coloring and eating Goldfish simply were not working. After several admonitions, he just would not quit squirming or keep his voice down, so Antique Daddy picked him up and carried him out of the assembly hall to threaten have a strong word with him.

Unlike me, Antique Daddy never loses his cool, so Sean knew immediately that he’d gone too far and that being whisked away wasn’t going to be good.

On the way out the door, just as the assembly grew quiet for a prayer, Sean dramatically shouts, “Please Daddy! Don’t spank me! I’m just so very hungry!”

Depending upon which parent you were, this was either highly amusing or highly embarrassing.

…. love one another

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deeply, from the heart.

1 Peter 1:22

And so you have.

Thank you all for the tremendous outpouring of love and encouragement and prayer support. I am honored. I am humbled. And I gratefully thank you. Happy Valentines Day everyone. ~ Antique Mommy

Looking For My Box

Why is it that churches need to put people in boxes? When Jesus spoke to and fed the crowd of 5,000, did he organize them into Youth, Singles, Young Professionals, Young Marrieds, Young Families, Pacesetters and Widowed and Divorced?

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When I was widowed at 34, I eventually (re)turned to church to help me through the grieving process – not so much for spiritual healing, although that too was certainly needed, but merely as a way to force myself to get out and interact with other humans on the longest and loneliest day of the week.

What I found when I finally ventured back to church, now in my mid-30’s, unemployed, widowed and childless, was that I didn’t fit anywhere. I had no box. I didn’t fit into the singles group, where everyone was a good ten years younger than me. And I certainly I didn’t fit into the widowed and divorced group where most everyone was a good 30 years older than me with grown children and grandchildren.

Nothing changed after I remarried at 39. Antique Daddy and I didn’t fit into the Newly Marrieds group. Although we were newly married, we weren’t exactly young. And now even though we have a child, we don’t fit into the Young Families group either, because you know, we’re still not young. So we kind of roam around from church to church, class to class, bugging visiting people who are comfortably snuggled into their demographic box.

And while that may sound like a complaint, it actually isn’t. I don’t really want a box. I like being with people from all seasons in life. It’s more interesting. It’s kind of fun to make people squirm when you invade their box. It’s liberating to be box free! Down with boxes people!

I was appreciating my box-free existence a few Sunday’s ago. We were visiting a church and ended up in a Sunday school class with mostly older folks. When the teacher asked that the guests be introduced, an elderly gentleman stood up and introduced his daughter who was about my age. “Everyone, I’d like you meet Susan, my daughter,” he said proudly. Then he looked at his wife who was glaring up at him through squinted eyes — his cue to quickly correct himself. “I guess I should say this is our daughter.”

“I guess so,” she said dryly in her long-voweled Texas accent, “since you were out eating a hamburger when I had her.”

Gotta love an old gal that speaks her mind. I think I’d like to party with her. And see what I would have missed had I been in the Old People With Toddlers class?

It Takes So Little

Antique Mommy is taking the day off. Here’s something from the archives.

The morning sun was harsh and blinding as we headed east. It bullied its way through my windshield and bounced around on the dashboard. It was not the gentle, renewing sun that greets me through my kitchen window every morning and baptizes me into another day of life. This sun cut through my cheap sunglasses and directly into the center of my skull like a gamma knife. This sun pushed my “GO!” button over and over like someone impatient for an elevator.

Sean sat in the back seat of the car and provided the color commentary as we drove. “Mommeeee! A pick up twuck!” and then “Mommeeee! A school bus!” We were a good ten cars deep as we approached the four way stop. It seemed as though no one had ever encountered a four-way stop before.

Stop. Inch up. Stop. Inch up. Finally we were just three cars away from our turn before we could zoom on with our lives. And then I saw him. He was sitting on the corner, in a tattered lawn chair. He looked like he might be somebody’s dad. He could have been my dad. His silver hair peeked from under a dirty baseball cap. He wore sunglasses. He was waving at every single car that passed through that intersection. Not a half-hearted flip-of-the-wrist wave, but a vigorous hand-over-head wave. He tipped his chin up to the sun – THAT sun – and with a full smile sent goodwill and greetings out to universe and to those who crossed his path that morning. “Hi!” or “Have a nice day!” he called to every driver.

My first thought was “What kind of nut…” Finally it was my turn. I pulled up to the stop sign. “Look Mommy! A man!” Sean called into the front seat. “Him wave at me!” “Yes Sean, that man waved at us,” I said as I looked in the rearview mirror at his baby face, so pleased. As I pulled through the intersection, the man in the tattered lawn chair made eye contact with me. Even though I couldn’t see his eyes through his sunglasses and he couldn’t see mine through my tinted window, I knew that he had looked into my eyes, that he had laid eyes on my soul. I rolled down my window and yelled “Hi! Good morning! It’s great to be alive!” And I wasn’t even embarrassed.

We continued down the road, heading east. The sun no longer seemed as harsh and my “Go” button had been magically disabled. Such a simple gesture had changed the course of my day and my attitude and maybe even my life.

I thought about that man in the lawn chair off and on throughout the day. I couldn’t let it go. Something had happened to me at that intersection. As I lay my head on my pillow that night, it came to me. Like a feather floating down from the ceiling, it settled on my heart. And it is this: It takes so little to reap so much for the kingdom of God, the kingdom of humanity. If you’ve got a lawn chair, a smile and an arm to wave, you’ve got a ministry.

What are you doing for the kindgom?