Sunday, April 14, 2013

They Hold Our Hearts

When a baby is first thrust from the womb and into our world, their tiny lungs fill with our air while a fresh cry rushes out of them. When you pry open their fist to savor the little, the wrinkles, the perfection, it appears their hands are empty. It appears as if they've brought nothing into their new existence but every mother, father, grandparent and relative of that baby knows this isn't true.  

From the moment the doctor first confirms our greatest hope, “You’re having a baby.” to that unforgettable moment we hear their cry and hold their trembling body against our own, we know they hold our heart in that tiny, wrinkled fist.  There is nothing we wouldn’t do for them.  And everything we have is now theirs; our time, devotion, prayers, passion...our very lives we would lay down if it were required.  They hold our hearts and our hopes for the future.

When hopes for the future and a hopeless diagnosis collide, the heart breaks.  And that baby who suffers; the little one poked with a needle, monitored on a machine and staring outside from the confines of a hospital room breaks the heart of their parents and relatives and of each one of us.  Because we have held our own babies, the babies of our sister, the babies of our friends and we know the love that ignites at first touch.  The unstoppable and unfathomable love that grows into a force so great we’re willing to live and die for that child.

Tonight, a baby that is more than likely being rocked to sleep amidst a tangle of cords and IVs is what keeps me awake. He’s not my baby but his suffering has reached far beyond the confines of his hospital room and immediate family.  The ripple-effect of his life has touched everyone that has come in contact with him and though he is not our baby, somehow his tiny fist has captured the heart of not only his mother, father and relatives but of a watching world.  His cry has brought us to tears.  His pain has brought us to our knees.  His journey has made us seek and question the God that so carefully and wonderfully formed him in his mother’s womb.  And answers seem beyond the grasp, beyond the understanding of our minds.  And it hurts.

But the magnitude of emotions in this splintering heart does not compare, could not even begin to understand the journey of emotions of his own mother who must have first heard the doctors, “You're having a baby!” and felt that overwhelming burst of love and hope for the life within.  How to understand the fear and desperation of the father that must have laid his hand, his ear and his dreams on the swell of his wife’s belly, only to hear months after meeting his anticipated child a dark and frightening diagnosis.  How to help carry their burden?  Shoulder this pain?  Walk with them in this journey?

And answers seem beyond the grasp... and it hurts.

Tonight, I kiss my children’s forehead while they sleep, sure the sweet baby sleeping under the soft fluorescent glow of a hospital light has had his forehead kissed bare.  Tonight, I beg God with words that feel weak and shaky to let this be the future for the parents waiting, watching, desperate and hopeful.  Tonight, I dream of a night that they would pull warm blankets up to a sleepy, little chin in their own home, away from IVs, needles and fear.

And tonight I know, no matter what the future holds, there is One who loves this baby with even greater passion and more intensity than every person that was in the room when he hollered his first cry in our big, confusing world.  Somehow I know if we could see with different vision, we’d see this God whom we seek and question is in this baby’s room tonight too.  He’s big enough to command the universe, yet small enough to fit into a chair next to a hospital crib.  And that bare spot on the sleeping baby’s head?  I think He kisses it too.

And while the baby rocks, while emotions rock, while the future seems to rock between fear and faith, He remains.  He loves, creates, rejoices over and gifts each life we cherish.  And no matter what comes tomorrow, He remains.  He holds.  He’s here.

From the moment a baby is born  into our world and you pry open their fist, you may not see it, but they hold our hearts.  Each day with them is a gift to cherish and through it all, He holds us.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Mother's Day Watering-Can Gift Idea!

Yep, it's that time of year again, peeps!  
MOTHER'S DAY!!!!!!!!!!

Like 'em or not, everyone has one and what better excuse than Mother's Day to celebrate their decision to give us life... and then later, when we are teenagers, attempt to take us out!  Oh, wait, my mom never did that...(really, she was TOO nice to me when I was a sassy teen!).  I don't know if I'll follow in her sweet lil' footsteps but I'll sure as heck try!

And if you are like me (though for your sake, I pray that isn't the case!), you are racking your brain this time of year to think of what to give Mother Dearest.  Something from the heart, of course and perhaps on a reasonable budget (boring I know but I have to answer to boss-man there!).  

This is an idea I came up with last year (though I'm sure it's been done before, I'm not that original!!) and it turned out to be pretty fun to make (minus the mess and mayhem and drama and...hmmm...maybe it wasn't that fun to make come to remember now!).  So, I thought I'd pass it along this year to you, my dear blogger-friend, in case you want to give it a whirl.  

The main cost other than the watering-cans and a bit of paint is the price of time.  It really is a two-for-one-deal:  You get the finished product of the gift and the kids get to dunk their feet in paint and make a crazy-mess.  Mama's happy, kid's are happy, that's a win-win I'd say!

Here's the step-by-step instructions:
(Note: all photographs were taken by a four-year-old since my hands were covered in paint so they may not be of exceptional quality, please just go with it.)

Prepare your station.  Set up the paints you want to use (pick any color theme of your choice, I let the kids each pick what color they wanted) and if you have it, throw down some big paper or a drop cloth for them to clean their feet off before running on your white carpet inside (live and learn).

Make a pile of paint, dunk the kid's foot and press onto watering-can. (Yes, this is WISCONSIN at this time last year...try not to be too depressed at the memory of it)

Gabby picked orange paint and ate some of the blue.  Glad I got cut off in the picture, I think I was having a revisit to the teen-facial-break-out days.

It was difficult to find Judah's foot under all the DIRT, but wet-wipes are salvation. (Note, I have never been asked to be a hand-model, don't ask me why they look like granny-hands here!)

Once all feet are painted on (I made two by the way, one for my mother and one for the MIL, hope I scored some points for that!) and names/ages if you so desire then spray on a few good coats of an OUTDOOR, CLEAR, PROTECTIVE coating. VERY important if you don't want the foot-prints to wear off since this will be holding water!!

Also, after posting this, my mother pointed out an IMPORTANT detail I spaced on (mommy-brain-drain?), I painted, "Grandchildren leave footprints on the heart" along the top.  She also suggested (if only I had HER brain!) you could paint on something about "Little Helping Hands or Feet" and use handprints with the same saying (above) instead.  

As for the paint, any kind is okay (I used acrylic crafting paint, purchased at any craft store or Wal-Mart) as long as you have a good, thick coat of the protection spray-paint upon completion!  

Here's my gang before church posing with the watering-can, shouting stuff like, "How much longer do I have to hold this fat baby??" and, "Water is leaking on my pants, Mom!"  Love them.  We got through it and everyone got too many marshmellows to qualify me for Mother-of-the-Year award.

This is my beautiful mom!!  She's the best (I know, you think the same about your mom too). She loved it (I had the kids hand them out, again, using a marshmallow-bribery-reward if they did it with big smiles and hugs!!) 
(I look really tired here, must have stayed up too late spray-painting watering-cans!  They are worth it.  Just thought I'd throw that in for your sake, Mom.  Love me more now.)

Oh, I should mention: I picked up two bouquets of flowers to give the watering-cans with, just seemed to jazz up the gift a bit more since it could be used as a vase if so desired!

This is my oldest girl and my beautiful MIL, she's the best too!

My goofy boys and my patient, lovely mother.

Happy Mother's Day to all YOU lovely moms and to my own mother and mother-in-LOVE!!