Monday, May 30, 2016

Precious Child, Precious Life

We lost my nephew this past week. We are shocked and saddened, but most of all, we are reminded of how precious this life is. 

I tried to write a Facebook post with the news. I debated posting it at all. A Facebook post seemed so trivial. But wise Hubby said, "It will get them prayers," and the debate was over. I searched for the word. Sweet? Not enough. Beautiful? Yes, but not it. Precious. Yes. In every way. Johnathon was precious.

In making the most horrific preparations a parent could ever make, his mom (my sister . . . "in law," if you must) called to see if we could put a song on disc for the funeral service. "It's called 'Precious Child,'" she told me. Yes, precious child.

A former teacher, Ms. Jones, at the visitation told me, "He was just a precious child." Yes. Yes, he was.

But it's not only Johnathon. It's all of them. 

The one beating her fists on the floor for an audience of glaring eyes at Kroger. Precious.

The one sitting at the table for an hour refusing to eat his broccoli. Precious.

The one who kept you up all night projectile vomiting. Precious.

The one who yelled, "I hate you!" and slammed the door. Precious.

The one who totaled your car. Precious.

"Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him." (Psalm 127:3 NLT)  I have no doubt that this was written because we parents would need the reminder. But there are no conditions on this statement. Each and every child is indeed a gift. A reward. A precious, fragile thing. If this past week--no, this past month of graduations and a wedding and one, heartbreaking funeral have taught me anything, it is Psalm 127:3. Your child, my child, every single child is a gift from the Lord. 

Love them well. Treasure them tenderly. They fly away much too soon.

Johnathon, in the back, with his arm around the principal.
During the funeral service, Johnathon's principal read a list of Johnathon's future plans that he had written. Within the first few, John had listed, "Impact the world," "Make the world a better place," "Find a way to make the world better." 

So I'm asking you this, for Johnathon, for me, for the world here and now and the world yet to come: treat your child, every child, every human, like the precious gift he is--even when they don't seem so precious, even when they don't deserve it, even and especially when they need it most. 

Then together, we can make Johnathon's future plans come true. With the lesson he taught us by leaving us, we can simply and profoundly "make the world a better place."

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Pelted with Milestones

Originally posted in May 2009, this post is all too true for me again today--and probably true for you too. My little redhead is now graduating to middle school, and the older son just graduated from college. I don't even want to think about seven years from now. . . . Nope. I think I'll just enjoy today.

Last night, Ethan and I were on the front porch when a little ball of fluff fell into the soft net of ivy below our shrub. Our baby cardinal had just launched from its nest. 

We had been watching the nest for weeks--the parents as they swooped around, heightening their guard when humans or other intruders entered the perimeter (which we had to do frequently, since the nest is right by our driveway).

Today, however, was a milestone for our neighboring bird family. Their little one had outgrown the nest and ventured out alone--albeit just a few feet below--to assert a newfound independence.

Coincidentally (or is it?), May is the month of many human milestones as well. Graduation announcements from preschools to universities have continually pinged newspapers, calendars, and mailboxes. 

It's the season for learning to fly. 

I empathized with Daddy Cardinal as he fluttered around, trying to figure out how to get the little one back in the nest, using his smoke-detector chirps to announce possible danger, the little one answering with squawks to identify his location. I knew that Daddy had a worrisome knot in his stomach, twisting just below the swells of pride that filled his heart--the two forces wreaking havoc in the mind of a parent.

Just this week our family has been pelted with our own set of milestones. A few days ago, we matched our son's savings to buy his first vehicle: a 1981 American CJ-7 with a dented hood and a reputation for stalling. It's his pride and joy. And my new source of concern. But despite my chirps, I know he'll soon be driving it. Alone.

Then, on the day the little cardinal pounced from his nest, my own little redhead finished his last day of preschool, outgrowing his nest of loving teachers and sweet friends that had nurtured him for the past three years. In two short months, he'll be venturing into strange, new surroundings, full of uncertainty and opportunity. All the while, mother bird will be here chirping and fluttering helplessly about.

God, in his wisdom, gave parents no control over the advancement of time. And while we can do our best to nurture and shield our little (and not-so-little) ones, we can only stand helplessly by and be pelted by their milestones.

This morning, writing from the front porch, I notice a calm has settled over Daddy Cardinal. Still flitting around the young bird, Daddy has conceded to bringing the little one's breakfast down to the ivy. The alarming chirps have subsided, and moments ago, I even saw Daddy--now 
with a fed and quiet child--high above singing a much more relaxed song.

As for this mama bird, I smiled and sighed knowingly as I read my key verse for today. Coincidentally (or is it?), "He will shield you with his wings. He will shelter you with his feathers. His faithful promises are your armor and protection" (Psalm 91:4 NLT).

For a little while at least, I'll relax a bit, knowing that my little ones--as well as I--can always run for protection in the wings that shield the world.