My Favorite One

I don’t know why this is my favorite one.  

But it sings to my soul.  Gentle.  Sweet.  Tender. This picture.  On the surface it’s really nothing special.  But to this momma it is filled with foreshadowing.  It knows so much.  It holds so much within its frame of what will always be.

There is this  perpetual path that leads  out and away.  And this reminds me so plainly in its black and white way that it is daily and it is certain….

There is a breaking away with bits of us. Pieces and parts of the ones that held hard with blood and often tears. Or held on hard in hope and with prayer.  Or held on to deep longlng for with trust and an assurance. That He gives us gifts.  Including these.  These children.  We steward their lives.  Watching over.  Guarding.  Protecting and sheltering.  While a slow and steady breaking away rips and tears and takes.   We give.  We give in love.  Sacrificially.  Lovingly.  Sometimes with teeth clenched, and hands white knuckling love.  We loose the grip and allow the breaking.

We say good bye, hundreds of times.  We hear the door shut, the gravel rumble and tires spin.  We see the backs of the head.  The backside of lives.  Off to school, off to play, off to camp, off to war- to fight the battles of their day.  Off to joy, off to pain, off to just be and suck on slushies.  Or to just be over a slice of pizza at youth group. To talk of life with trusted adults about how to navigagte the seas in a rocking boat. How to be wise and brave.

But the back turned, facing away, toward the sea.  Turned away.  Turned from me. Its what I see as beauty. The head down looking on the path.  Avoiding splinters in the barefeet.  Or avoiding worse pain. The hands held in love.  For security.  Held like three strands of a braid.  Holding like we all do to another.  To steady.  To balance.  To feel warm blood rushing through another, to sense the pulse of someone else. Huddled up.  Grouped up.

That with all the teaching and preaching and telling, showing, explaining, admonishing, cajoling they will navigate more on their own everyday of their lives.  Every day brings them closer to independence.  Every day takes them a step away from this home.

I have a deep assurance that they won’t ever go too far, or be gone too long, or have long periods of absence.  In this short term. But life could really take them far and wide and oceans of space could separate us one day. I trust.  I release. And I pray that God keeps them tethered tightly to this momma. Leaving is natural.  Going is part of living.

But there are those who sacrifice and release in ways that I will probably never have to.

We have known one such mother very briefly.  Time is hard to measure.  How long were we in her presence.? Time stood still.  Each moment of joy magnified time.  New and tender mercies take all attention.  Time has no form of measurement.  It is a blur. Heart pounding joy stops clocks, stops the earth.  Stops all but the joy moment.  It calls all things to itself to be and watch and listen in love.

She impacts my life daily.  Her love and her releasing take my breathe away. Her life touched mine. Then changed mine forever.

She is sacrifice.  She is love.  She is the birthmother of our son.

It has been 17 and a half years since I stood in a room and had her pass in love indescribable her son, our son, into my arms.  How God orchestrates a moment like this leaves me numb in love. Seeing brave bold love and looking it right in the eyes changes. It writes on a place in your insides.  It carves deep lettering in the flesh and right on the heart wall.  It scribbles out love, selfless love.  It carves out stark and plain and simple. A deep giving of tremendous sacrifice.

I don’t know brave that speaks like this.  I can’t find places where I can show gratitude and gratefulness here at Mother’s Day, for her.  I can only tell her story in a shadow, but tell it boldy and proclaim the enormous space it takes up in my heart.

She turned and walked out of our lives 17 years ago.  But she left a mark. A precious child.  I know she would look on him becoming a man and I know she’d see him through momma’s eyes as I, that he is fine.  And he is special.  And he is love with flesh and bones walking.  He will do and be great things. He knows he is loved.  He knows God.

Happy Mother’s day to a kind, brave, and generous birthmother.  We love him deep and wide.  And if you could look right there, you would see, in black and white,that he is loved by one adoring brother. And by one adoring sister. And hovering in the background, one momma too.

Its a favorite one. I just had to share.

Mother’s Day is really something more, its Givers Day and humble Receivers Day. To all the Givers and all the Receivers of life, and children. And love.  Happy Day.

{This photograph was taken by Gail Lunn many/several years ago!! I am grateful.  She is talented. Thank you for this wonderful favorite picture, Gail}

Its Like The Normandy Invasion But On A Larger Scale

This is Tuesdays story. And yes its Wednesday.

It rings.  Or vibrates.  Or more likely its muted and I see there is a call.  I reach for the lifeline in this life.  Its red phone, its  black box important. Its part of a multi-level communications plan that involves email, carrying  life plans delivering the latest top level security updates.

She is Patton. I am MacArthur. This is war.  This is their lives.

Red pen, push pins,  tools in the battleplans laid out in the heart and mind.  Marking the critical, identifying the hour by hour movement of troops. And we strategize.  We move pieces around the map of life. The map of their lives on this night.

We momma warriors plan out how to keep them safe on this night of their lives.  Point A to Point B movement is critical to safety and well-being.  Its a jungle out there, these roads of life.  Danger lurks.  Hearts and bodies, fragile with youth, must naviagate through decisions, confusion, temptation, and dark night.

She tells me a story and I tell her one too, this co-general momma planner.

Our boys, one half a step from manhood, are tall, grown in stature  and  raised in this community of believers. My daughter, one year behind these sons growing into womanhood.  These children linked up and doing life together. My son, her son such deep friendship carving out.  My daughter, linked in friendship.  These woven lives all threaded together in community of youth.  We have much to steward. The flowers and shrimp for the battle night are distraction wrapped in details of the pre-battle party.

She goes first.  Words paint story of three year old school kids off to the pool after three year old kindegarten.  And she, plunges down in and swims with the playmates. She caring for a child for these hours, whose life she has been a participant in from before the beginning.  She comes to the surface, all momma cleansed, her make-up and hair no longer as before.  And he stares, my wide-eyed one, blue saucers, blue orbs piercing her in numbing confusion.  He, always this recorder of events, never missing one.  And always, always speaking out in raw truth.

And after long pregnant pause of childhood wonder, he asks what he questioned all along.  Are you still Taylor’s momma.  Change so subtle, wet haired momma swimmer now could be someone else.  Now could be for mine a stranger in this pool.

She giggles and I belly laugh. This story of over a decade ago blurs time and space and races back and delivers simpler.  Drops her in my lap, simple.  The easy to explain.  Of course I’m Taylors momma.

Its my turn now.  Story rises up all warm, like white flour biscuit oven ready.  Story hot out seeking open mouth to savor her and enjoy how sweet, all honey-covered she is.

Do you remember?  Do you recall? The time my husband popped into your office eighteen years ago and you pointed him to Bethany Christian Services? His heart broken by my pain, and  his, and  ours. This battle with infertility. This pain of long wait for baby.He, seeking a God path out of the pain. Black tunnel life moments, the coming out seeing light.

And do you remember you were the one there on that day? He was a stranger.  We were from somewhere else.  This was before.  Before we were drawn to this place.  This was a beginning and you marked this community as one of Hope and Love.

And she, belly full of baby.  Working at the church.  She directing and moving push pin strategy plans of the heart, pointing toward hope, gently lead by the Spirit. Leading us to a place where family would grow out of and from.  Where comfort and blessing and our adoption story would be birthed.

So story reminds of beginnings of friendships between boys.  Hers on the way into her home in her warm ripe belly.  She a directress of Hope and Encouragement. Ours, nine months later birthed through a precious life-giving birth mother who would lovingly release our cherished and prayed for one into my arms.

And now the warrior mothers plan and scheme of safe life travels on the night of Prom.  Planning all Normandy Invasion, how to feed the troops, what tanks will carry these young people off into the night. How will they move from Point A to Point B to Point C. What happens when the enemy lurks on the highway, dark night covering their paths. How will they find their way home to us to the mothership? Dodging each obstacle in their path with skill, on their own in this night.  Her son and my daughter, traveling companions on this jouney, paired up she with his best friend.  And my middle off with another group.

This battle, this plan has dimension and depth that challenges a momma battle planner.But we have each other.

Whether mother or not.

We have community in life.  Ones whose gifts come alongside and lend strength and comfort.

We have the other story-tellers who tell of their messy and their struggle.  Who shine bright light on the you are not in this alone. Who tell of over-coming challenge, pain, grief, and disappointment.  Who tell of times of rejoicing and flat out Joy.  Who shout the Mercy times and the Grace times when just before they stumbled hard they were caught in Love.  By community.

He wove this momma warrior back into my life.  He weaves these threads of support in kind word tapestry.  Ones who tell story of life where we see clearly He carried us.  He fought that battle for us and with us.  He prepared.

And we’ll release these young brave-hearts into this night and this life.  Covered in His love, covered in prayer.

And the mothership will keep watch for safe return. Always longing for their return, from playdates in swimming pools and first prom nights.

And trips home from college.

This is not the end of the story.  By no means is this the end of the story. Because its Wednesday’s story and Thursday,  she will have one too.