Archive for August, 2012

Unusual Silence

Remember the son I mentioned having sent off to Kindergarten just yesterday—and now his son is off to his first day of Kindergarten?  Well, this son, Bjorn, also has a wife, our daughter-in-law Abby.  Today she sent me a beautiful and poignant email which I asked her permission to share with you.  So here it is, a first guest post from Abby Anderson:  “Unusual Silence.”


I’m sitting in silence right now, unusual silence. This is the time of day the house is typically quiet, but today is different. Nils, he’s napping peacefully upstairs…quiet, as usual. What brings the silence today is the absense of spontaneous songs from another room, the faint sounds of The Jesus Storybook bible being read on cd, crashing Legos in a dramatic battle, our Duplo bin being rummaged through, or the occasional “Mommy, I need to go potty” or “How much time is left in my rest time?” I’ve been pretty good all morning–only a few tears–but this quiet is hard for me.

I know this is one of many times I will be asked to let go of my kids. And I realize this may be one of the easiest “letting go’s” I walk through (Soren is 1/4 mile down the road in a safe kindergarten class he loves, not asking for the keys to the car to go pick up friends for the night or hundreds of miles away at college or boarding a plane to visit a girl he loves, etc). Still, it’s a letting go.

I keep coming back to the pain in childbearing blog Bjorn sent this week. I feel like my heart is experiencing “growing pains”. As the boys grow, life changes, letting go is required, and I see that I need to inhale and exhale (in order to steady my anxious heart and practice trusting Him, whose they ultimately are anyways) and then push—push through the pain that brings sweet and good growth (in me and in Soren and Nils). Soren is growing up today of many days. He ate lunch today without me and Nils next to him. I think he’ll love it, but goodness, it hurts for me. Even as frustrating as a meal time can be, battling the potty talk and reminding of good manners, I’m with him. Today, I wonder…did he eat alone? did he need help with his lunch and have someone to help him? did he talk to others? what did they talk about? I’ve exchanged 7 days of lunch with him a week to 2. That reality alone has caused me to ask the Lord, “Are you sure you don’t want me to homeschool? Today, it sounds appealing.” We feel quite confident that that is not the road the Lord has us on, but man, I can see the temptation in it for me—to avoid the pain in childbearing.

In all this change, pain, inhaling and exhaling today, I know that the Lord has His hand on Soren. I know that this is a wonderful and healthy step of growing up for Soren this year and beyond. I know I will treasure this school day time with Nils for the next couple of years. I feel sure that Soren will love school and learning and his teacher. So, I’m now being stretched to remind myself that these boys are not mine to hold on to; they are the Lord’s! He is with Soren every moment of his day, even if I am not. He speaks wisdom and truth into his spirit in ways that I can’t and now in times when I’m not there. He is Soren’s protector, comforter, and peace. I am not. This is a good reminder for me today. In the letting go, I think I will pray more! I have to. They are the LORD’S! (I’m just going to keep telling myself that for the years to come and hope it sinks in!)

I think 3pm has just taken a new level of significance in my day. Soon, we’ll walk down and pick him up and hear of his day.  I can’t wait . . .

I better re-do my makeup before I see his teacher.  🙂

Back to School Thoughts on Motherhood as Spiritual Formation

The other day I was talking with one of our sons about a big moment coming up in his life: sending his first son off to kindergarten.  We reminisced about his own first day of Kindergarten, a day I will never forget.  There we were, both Woody and I (he had taken time off from work to come home and see Bjorn off) standing at the bus stop in the rain, waving through our tears.  I’m not sure that Bjorn was crying.  But we both were.

Fast forward 13 years.  A long drive across 7 states and over 1000 miles to take him to college.  More rain.  More tears—lots of them. Windshield wipers going the whole way—both outside and inside. And a new realization:  This motherhood thing is even harder than I’d realized. One releasing after another.  And another.  And each releasing feels somehow physical.  There’s an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach that by now, many years later, has become familiar.

So just last week this same son (the one whose first son will soon be off to Kindergarten) sent me a link to an article posted on The Gospel Coalition blog entitled, “The Truth about Pain in Childbearing” by Jen Wilkin. I really resonate with her perspective.  I’ve always believed that parenting affords a unique opportunity for spiritual formation.  And this blogger sheds a great deal of light on why and how that is.

A favorite part: “Childbearing saves me because it faithfully (albeit painfully) reminds me over and over again that I am weak.  It reminds me that I am not self-sufficient, that I do not have what it takes to protect and preserve my children, but that my heavenly father does.  It saves me from the belief that I am God.”

I hope you’ll read the whole article.

A Night To Remember

Do you ever leaf through a book and sneak a peak at the ending before you buy it?  Normally I try not to do that.  But recently I had an experience that made me wonder how our lives might be different if we could get a glimpse of the ending a little earlier on.

It’s a night I will always remember: a retirement party for my husband, Woody.  First, there was the shock that it was even happening.   We’ve been married 44 years (!) and medicine has always been a central part of our lives.  When we got married, Woody had just finished his first year of medical school.  Woody has been a physician now for 41 years, and a medical oncologist for 34 of those years. And he has loved it all. Despite long hours, weekends on call, and life with the ever-present beeper, he has loved being an oncologist.  Walking alongside cancer patients—both the living and the dying—has been not only a sacred privilege, but a calling.

So I wondered if he would ever retire.  To my astonishment, he did.  Which led to one of the most memorable nights of my life.  For the first time in our 44 years together, I was privileged to be in a room with scores of his patients.  For several hours, patients lined up to say “thank you.” They were young and old, black and white and Hispanic, some healthy at this moment and others not-so-healthy.  And they brought with them their families and friends.  There were young children and grateful parents and loving care-givers.

They all came to say “thank you.” Thank you for walking alongside me.  Thank you for caring. Thank you for giving me hope. Thank you for five more anniversaries—and that I got to see my son graduate, my daughter get married, and the birth of my grandson. There were hundreds of hugs—and plenty of tears. It was moving beyond words.

Many of them also sought me out in the crowd to say thank you.  Thank you for sharing your husband. Thank you for supporting him in those long hours he must have been away for home.  Thank you to your kids for sharing their dad. Several children of one patient even asked what they could do for our family to say thank you for saving their mom’s life.

I looked around and thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if I could have gotten a glimpse of this now and then over the years?”  In my head I always knew that it was worth it—the long hours, the weekends on call, the evenings filled with prepping charts for the next day. But how my heart burst when I saw the other side of the story. “Worth it” took on a whole new level of meaning.

Wouldn’t it be great if each of us could see the “other side” of our husband’s careers?  I know it’s more dramatic with some careers then others. When I commented to one patient that it was great that so many had come to the party, he responded: “Yeh, isn’t it great?  We’re all here—and we’re all alive!” A career in oncology is a special kind of thing.  But there are people on “the other side” of every career.  Maybe it would help to think of them more often when your husband comes home late, has to work over a weekend, or can’t be home with you every time he’d like.  Just a thought.

It was an evening I’ll never forget.  It made me want to say “thank you.”  Not only thank you to those who gave the party and the patients who came.  But thank you to Woody for the huge respect and admiration I have for him.  Somehow, by God’s grace, he has managed to be not only an extraordinary husband—my best friend, and a wonderful father—but he has also lived out his professional calling in ways that have changed lives, given hope to the hopeless, and glorified God.  I’m thankful to have been a part of it.

Most of all, thank you to God.  Thank you for calling Woody to such a high and holy profession. Thank you for giving him the strength to live out his calling so faithfully. Thank you for giving me grace, flawed as I am, to support him on the homefront.

And thank you, God, for a good ending.  As we turn the page from this chapter to the next—the one with a lot of blank pages—I’m so thankful that the same Author writes the script.  Let the adventure continue!

The Gift of Time

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about time.  For one thing, where has the summer gone?  Can it really be August?

And then there’s the Olympics.  Are you as fascinated by the incredible feats of those marvelous athletes as I am?  Think of the time—hours and days, months and years—these men and women have put in prior to that one race in the pool, that one gymnastics routine.  And then it is all decided in moments—seconds, actually.  How many medals have been lost to another competitor by one hundredth of a second?

But most of all this summer I’ve been thinking of the gift of time.  Specifically, the gift of more time with two of my grandchildren than I’ve ever had before.  Erika and Richie and their 3 ½-year-old Gabriella and 11-month-old Judah lived with us for 6 ½ weeks from mid-June through July.  What a gift that was!

It gave me opportunity to enjoy everyday moments with them.   Not just family outings, carnival rides, exploratory walks, or a dip in the lake.  Not just summer fun riding horseback at the Children’s Museum, splashing in the little backyard pool, and making 4th of July Little Cheesecakes.  But also just watching.  Watching Judah learn to crawl, build with with blocks, or play who-gets-the-spoon over breakfast.  Watching Gabriella feed her mom’s old Teddy Ruxpin, goof around over breakfast—or just wake up in the morning with all her friends.   Moments in time.  Memories made.

I savored every one of these memories.  Nanas get to do that.  There’s not so much time the first time around, when you’re raising your own little ones.  But it did make  me think of all of you.  Every one of you moms for whom summer may be flying by—or feeling like forever.  Every one of you Nanas who may be enjoying similar moments with your grandchildren.

Wherever this summer may find you—savoring or maybe just merely “surviving” (there are all these different moments in a mom’s life, aren’t there?)—I pray that you may take just a few moments to look at the faces before you.  Like Emily in the play Our Town, look at them like you really see them.   And now and then in your busy life, pause and take a snapshot—with a camera, or even with just your memory.  A moment in time.  A gift.  Thank you, God, for the gift of time.

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