In the Image of their Maker

”In our society, at the age of five, 90 percent of the population measures ‘high creativity.’ By the age of seven, the figure has dropped to 10 percent. The percentage of adults with high creativity is only two percent! …We are diminished, and we forget that we are more than we know. The child is aware of unlimited potential, and this munificence is one of the joys of creativity. Those of use who struggle in our own ways, small or great, trickles or rivers, to create, are constantly having to unlearn what the world would teach us” (Madeleine L’Engle, ‘Walking on Water‘).

I’m not a craft mom. My utilitarian bent drags me down & my creativity tends to manifest itself in necessary things… learning how to lay hardwood flooring because we need a floor, cooking a meal because we need to eat dinner, sewing because my kid has a hole in his pants. But crafts are messy and superfluous, and what do I do with it when it’s done??

Curiously though, I love art and music and poetry and so many beautiful things I no longer can find the time to do or learn or cultivate.

My kids though, they CREATE. With no clause of necessity attached. They do it because it brings them joy, and I’m struck by how beautifully that reflects their Creator

One of my sons interrupted me the other night, well past his bedtime, excitedly wanting to show me this ship he was stitching. I was frustrated then, but saw it sitting in the corner today, and it touched me. This is my kid who gravitates to all things facts and reason. He lives and breathes sports and history and facts. He’s not my imaginative or creative one, but he loves making and building and executing. No pattern or instruction from me, he just bummed some supplies off his Great-Grandma and ran with it.

And I realized the importance of this. Here is my child who happens to be struggling with the abstractness of faith, yet something in him still loves the abstract beauty of creating. Because whether we see it or grasp it, we were made in the image of our maker and the “creative impulse can be killed, but it cannot be taught” (L’Engle).

There’s a flame there apart from me, that I could never ignite, but I can kill or kindle. Lord, help me kindle!

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The Aim of Being Needed no Longer

“The proper aim of giving is to put the recipient in a state where he no longer needs our gift. We feed children in order that they may soon be able to feed themselves; we teach them in order that they may soon not need our teaching. Thus a heavy task is laid upon the Gift-love. It must work towards its own abdication. We must aim at making ourselves superfluous. The hour when we can say ‘They need me no longer’ should be our reward” (C.S. Lewis, ‘The Four Loves’).

Few things in life, have proven harder for me than the act of parenting. It’s continually asking me to give more than I think I have. It empties me. 

In other realms, giving feels simpler. Even when motives aren’t borne out of selfishness, something is generally received back in response. Given to us because we gave. We give in our jobs and we are given recognition or at the very least, a paycheck. We give in academia and we are given knowledge and accolades and degrees. We give in our personal pursuits and we are given success and growth and satisfaction. Even when we give selflessly to our spouse, we are often given back a happier home or a sweeter love or a stronger marriage, of which we comprise half of.

But giving as a parent, rarely results in something being given back (if so, certainly not in correlation to the gift amount).

This is not to elevate the act of giving as a mother or parent above all others, in fact, it’s the one I most often see idolized. A selfish selflessness. In reality, it’s just a different kind of giving and a different kind of love, and it helps me to see that and understand that because unexpected and misunderstood things often breed bitterness and anger.

I know this, because at this very moment I’m sitting here after sending myself to my room because my giving was rooted in selfishness. Oh, I was giving alright—feeding and teaching and cleaning and pouring out—but it was bitter and angry giving. Giving that was angry at not getting back.

But we don’t give to our children to get back. We can’t give expecting a cleaner house or better behaved kids or quieter moments or a thankful heart in exchange. It’s a gift, not a barter. We require obedience and respect and kindness because it’s what we require of ourselves and what God requires of us, but it’s not in exchange for something.

We give of ourselves in order that our children grow and learn and become people no longer reliant on our giving. We give so they can one day give to others. We give because we were given.

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Mudder’s Day Pie

N: “Hey Mommy! The radio said it was Mudder’s Day this weekend, and I’ve been thinkin’ about what I want. A pie! I’ve been really wanting a pie.”

Me: “But it’s Mother’s Day. Shouldn’t you make me a pie?”

N: “Uggggggh. Little girls DO NOT even know how to make pies! Moms have to make pies. And all I ever EVER wanted was a strawberry pie for Mudder’s Day. WHY IS MY LIFE SOO HARD??”

…I’m so glad I birthed this one.


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What Not to Do When You Forget Your Child’s Birthday…

Oh mercy. It’s official. I think I’ve just experienced my two lowest parenting moments yet (which is saying a lot). TWO. In the span of less than thirty minutes.
And I’m actually going to publicize what I have just done.

Abridged transcript of this fateful morning:

It all began like most of our days begin, with two-year-old Nora displaying her intense will and sassiness in all its glory. By wanting things that do not exist and not wanting things that can never be changed. I think this one had something to do with the uppermost top of her oatmeal not hitting that imaginary “acceptability line” within her bowl, while Jack’s (whose had already been eaten) did happen to be at the proper level.

Fast forward lots of words and emotions and toddler curses to the “timeout” step.

Me: “Nora, don’t move for TWO MINUTES! Lucky for you, you don’t turn three until Friday, though I’m tempted to make you sit for three minutes anyways!”

Jack: “It IS Friday! Nora’s three TODAY right, Mommy?? Are we surprising her!?”

Me: [silence]

Jack: “Nora! I’ll sing Happy Birthday to you while you’re in timeout, okay?”

So Jack starts grandly serenading Nora in her birthday timeout (which she is thoroughly enjoying), while I run to the basement and grab the “Happy Birthday” banner and sign, throwing it up in the kitchen like a crazy person. In utter shock that this was happening AND that I had brilliantly decided to set a timer for the FIRST time ever, which meant I only had 1 minute and about 45 seconds left to whip up a birthday before the stupid alarm went off.

[Nora running into the kitchen excitedly at the sound of that dastardly timer going off, seeing my “clearly” planned/well-thought out decorations] “YAY, IT’S MY BIRFDAY, IT’S MY BIRFDAY!!”

Me: “Yes!! And I’m so excited! Let me get a birthday hug and kiss! Here’s your…birthday oatmeal. And your…BIRTHDAY banana.” (which apparently makes all the difference, because she happily woofs it down now with no mention of the grossly unfair “oatmeal line”).

Then we sing “Happy Birthday” again because I’m not totally sure what else to do, followed by some practice saying her new super-exciting age a bunch of times.

And while Jack is giving her the low-down on all the fun birthday things they’ll be doing today, I race to my computer (whispering some choice toddler curses under my breath) to check the tracking on her birthday present I ordered, that I could have sworn was supposed to be here the day before her birthday. And I notice the date…


I should not have said this.

Jack: “Whoooooa! It is NOT your birthday today Nora! We need to take down your sign and your birthday decorations!”

You should NOT say such things to a two-ish-three year old.
I’m not totally clear how, but in the seven minutes she was fake-three, she seemed to have learned all sorts of new THREE-year-old toddler curses and coping mechanisms. Is it just me, or do three-year-olds not handle disappointment particularly well?

So Jack is running through the house singing, “Happy NOT Birthday” (I’m being totally serious), and Nora is following behind trying to attack him with the strength of a thousand angry 2.9 year-olds, as she screams “IT IS MY BIRFDAY! I WANT MY BIRFDAY NOW!! I am NOT TWO. SING HAPPY BIRFDAAAAAAAY TO ME, JACK!” While I frantically try to call husband and ask him for advice on what one would normally do when you find oneself in a situation such as this…

Well. It’s looking like our sweet lil’ thing is gonna be getting TWO birthdays this year. OH MY WORD, I have to do this all over again tomorrow…

Happy Friday everyone!!!

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