Laurel Thomas

babies Archive

Thursday

20

July 2017

0

COMMENTS

A Child’s Voice in the River

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A speech impediment plagued my five-year old self. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t pronounce my name. The letter “l” was impossible, the “r” tricky. My name, Laurel, required mastery of one or the other. The sound that tumbled out of my mouth in an untidy heap was not my name.

Awkward, mumbling “Ohwell” confused anyone who asked, “What’s your name, little girl?”

How could six letters arranged to identify me be so hard to get out of my mouth? It was embarrassing, even for a little kid who shouldn’t have cared much. After all, I was loved by the people who mattered. No big deal.

Except it was a big deal. But for reasons I didn’t understand at the time.

Later, when I experienced God, I realized why. Because me with Him was the point. The whole point. Me living this life, with Him, as only I could.

It took me awhile to figure that out. And to understood I needed to be grateful for all the parts of my life. In my worst moments, I’d made flawed decisions, opted for easy instead of difficult, and stayed passive when a mess required a response.

But those parts could be summed up in a sentence or two. Unlike the incredible joy of seeing my babies for the first time. When my husband and I locked eyes and knew we were part of a miracle – together.

Or the journey of recognizing my mom’s courage. Loving and appreciating with adult eyes how she responded to dashed dreams as a good mom – loving her kids and making the hard choice to protect us.

And accepting the wonder of a dad who chose me. Actually, he chose my mom first. But by choosing her, he embraced me. On purpose. He loved that way when I recognized it and when I didn’t.

I’d had great people who helped me along the way. Most of all, my husband. But, also leaders and bosses who taught me to be wise and work hard. Even the ones who blew it showed me that my decisions for integrity, or not, were me writing my own story. The one I’d be able to share with my kids in the years to come. Or not.

Colossians 1:28 has been talking to me all summer. Talking to me? Well, it’s a big subject. Christ in me, the hope of glory.

Confidence in God showing up as God in me? What does that look like?

I struggled a long time with the largeness of that thought. I’d focus on how many ways I’d missed it. And why. Until I decided to go another direction. It started with a simple prayer.

Lord, help me see You in me. Help me identify and treasure Your uniqueness in me.

Then, help me steward Your expression in me well.

A steward doesn’t just keep order and make sure life colors within the lines. A steward administrates what doesn’t belong to her. The assignment and it’s design are unveiled as I keep moving and trusting.

Finally, help me share it in love. Because love rests over my imperfections and somehow makes my offering lovely.

This summer, in time for my birthday, I’m discovering the one thing that evaded me as a child.

I’m learning to pronounce my name.

Sunday

11

May 2014

0

COMMENTS

Courage in the River

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“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’” Mary Ann Radmacher

I’m asking more and more to see the big picture. Distractions obscured my view for years. The eternal paraded nearby, unnoticed by me, while I tended to fires that only veiled the real deal.

I want what matters. Even when it shows up unannounced.

Mary might have been asleep when the angel, Gabriel, came to visit. She didn’t ask for the encounter. Even as love breathed into the air around her, the message confounded her young heart.

“Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. You will become pregnant and give birth to a Son and you will call His name Yeshua,” he said.

Still, Mary welcomed God. Angelic visitor, supernatural mission and impossible circumstances. Yes, to all of the above.

The sweetness of heaven’s visitor must have lingered. Did it stick around long enough to cushion the clash of incomprehensible meeting human reason?

Heaven defied the natural and inserted His plan on earth in baby form. All in the human package of a young woman called to carry God.

It was a profound, beautiful first fruit of His will for all of us. The mystery of imperfect people carrying a God treasure.

She couldn’t have known how much grace carrying that Treasure would require. It didn’t look like an assault at first. After all, it was her family. It was Joseph. But they didn’t understand.

Rejection has a hook. That hook is based on the fact we carry something that isn’t understood. It isn’t understood because it is God. Rejection must have hovered with its goon, shame, like a black cloud threatening to slime Mary and her treasure.

These babies are God plans that begin with a thought or desire. Sometimes they show up in our dreams. Many are aborted before they are known, denied before their beauty shapes our world in a new way.

Questions assail us like, “Who do you think you are?”

“You’ve tried and failed before, why is this time any different?”

“How important is this anyway? It’s so little and insignificant.”

Mary was a wise woman. She ran to her friend, Elizabeth. Elizabeth knew about supernatural babies. She carried one. She, too, was a forerunner who carried a child of the spirit, not born of the will of man, but of God.

Elizabeth friends are precious. They recognize the gift we carry when others don’t. They aren’t threatened by what they can not understand. They know a baby needs protection. That means caring for the momma.

Elizabeth was old. She was proof age has nothing to do with this birthing process. We can receive a God-baby at any age.

God things aren’t always understood. But in embracing them, we receive the potential to bring heaven to earth in flesh and blood reality. Did Jesus shape the world? Our babies will, too.

They need protection, they need care. But when they come to birth, God arrives on the scene. He may come in baby form, but that expression of heaven in us touches earth in ways we never expected.

Shalom,

Laurel Thomas

 

Monday

14

April 2014

2

COMMENTS

Crawdads and Capacity, Part 2

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My bare foot crunched on a once soggy, now crusted Cheerio on the kitchen floor. Sun glared through the nearby sliding glass door. Masses of small fingerprints melded into a sticky filter around its door handle. How could three sets of miniature hands make so many fingerprints? I bent down to pull the Cheerio off my heel, then took a few sips of stale coffee and wiped the counter with disinfectant.

The phone rang. From somewhere. Digging through piles of paper, I heard a faint ring, then silence. Another ring again and again. There it was, under the third cushion on the couch, with a half-eaten granola bar. Brief silence, then another ring.

It was my husband. Loving, kind and unaware.

“Hey, honey. Don’t forget. Jorge, Carlos, and Alex are coming over for dinner. Tonight. Remember? Honey?”

Breakfast dishes scattered the kitchen counter, milk splashed and sugar stuck to the light pine table. A casserole dish from the night before soaked in the sink. Faint circular indentations marked the linoleum where our oldest son tried out a new hammer.

My eyes moved to the dining room. Papers and books stacked around a half-composed jigsaw puzzle of dolphins frolicking in a pristine sea. No room for dinner.

A speedy check list buzzed through my brain, panic clearing its early morning fog. Clean house, run by grocery store and cook dinner. Shouldn’t take more than eight hours.

Crash!

My heart skipped as I ran to check out the disaster. Four year old Davy sat on a collapsed, once upper shelf of our built-in bookcase. Brown curls stuck in determined sweat and tears around angelic face. A pile of broken Hummel figurines of chubby Nordic children scattered around him.

“I’m borken (translation, broken),” he cried.

He bellowed, drawing long breaths to bellow more. He might be four but he knew when in doubt, cry loud and hard. A useful diversionary tactic. I sighed and checked him for cuts. My chubby Nordic child was not broken. The Hummels, however, were in shards. I picked him up, brushed him off and hugged him as my heart pounded against his tummy.

First the trash can, then vacuum cleaner, as I set the broken shelf against a wall. Davy went out to play. One more treasure bit the dust. Check.

“Moommm!”

“What,” I shrieked.

Was it still the first week of summer vacation? What happened to idyllic plans with happy children, crafts, swimming pool and neighborhood ball games? My picture of children as perfect begonias grown in careful, controlled environment morphed into dragon lily. Or Venus fly trap, with me as the fly.

Five year old Tim limped in. Bloody footprints followed him from tile to carpet. “Stoopp!” I ran over to pick him up and tripped on a Hot Wheel race car. Hidden under tiny toe gaped a crimson hole. A quick call to our neighbors and our favorite babysitter arrived to watch Davy and Shannon.  I drove Tim to the doctor, his foot wrapped in a faded pink wash cloth.

Two hours later we were home, stitches in place and ready for a nap. Or not. Time to speed dial my clean up efforts. My husband called.

“We might be a little early.”

How hard could this be? Back to the plan. What happened to the plan? Clean house and clean children only as active as my energy managed. Imparting life principles to young hearts in sweetness and light. Principles to form good citizens and worthy opponents.

Did I say worthy opponents? That pooped out. I mean popped out. Back to good citizens. I loved my kids. I loved God. At some point His order would override our mess. Right?

“Momma, play with me,” said Shannon as she cradled her worn baby doll. “I can’t, sweetie. Too much to do. Let’s take Molly for a quick nap.” The door bell rang. “Mom! It’s Chris and Robbie. Can we play?” Sure. Naps were good, but playing outside a close second. Tim wanted to show off his stitches.

I took a short breath and steeled myself for a super-woman push. Disinfectant in my back pocket, vacuum cleaner extended and glass cleaner at my feet. I had weapons for this war.

Summer heat crept through narrow slits around our front door. The cracked tile on one end of the foyer drew my eyes up to a hole in the drywall. A roller blade mishap. Mental note. Find a bigger rug. I picked up a rumpled braid rug to shake it outside. A crawdad fell out. Alive. A mother crawdad. A mother giving birth to tiny crawdads, spilling like Rice Krispies on the floor.

I screamed. The phone rang. It was my husband.

“We’re on our way over.”

I slid down the blue paisley wallpaper and cried. I sobbed and wailed as the boys walked in with their two best friends. Tim looked at the crawdad, then at me.

“Look, you made her cry.”

Tim looked sad. I felt terrible.

“It’s okay. I’m okay. Tim, gather up that momma and her babies. Put them back in the creek. She doesn’t like it here,” I said.

Then I picked up the phone.

“Hey, dinner’s not going to work tonight. I’ll explain later.”

“No problem, I’ll take them out and bring them home for dessert.”

“No, not tonight. A mother crawdad just gave birth on my tile. Tim’s toe is held together with six stitches and all my Hummels are broken.”

“Oohhh…”

Peace settled over me. I thought about the mother crawdad turned upside down in a place outside her home. Out of control, with her babies at stake. I felt like that momma, alone and responsible for my babies in circumstances beyond my control. Where had I believed a lie, that I could make life perfect?

Life, at times, was messy and out of control. I could choose to play the victim. Or I could pull my chin up, draw boundaries, and take charge. I might be upside down throwing out babies like pinballs, but it was my life and my privilege to take care of.

My resources would always fall short. But my resources weren’t what mattered. What mattered were our three children. They were treasures with untapped riches tucked inside those sweaty little bodies. They needed to move. They needed time and space to breathe and grow. Not perfection. Just an imperfect mom with a perfect God.

No wonder Jesus took time to gather children into His arms and bless them. I bet their momma’s were right beside Him, hoping some of that blessing spilled over. After all, we were looking after His treasures, too.

And needing a little encouragement that pint-sized imperfections were never strong enough to mar a diamond in the making.  

Shalom,

Laurel Thomas

(Maybe you noticed this is an expanded version of my last blog. I”m learning to “show, not tell” with my writing. Thanks for letting me practice!)      

Thursday

6

February 2014

2

COMMENTS

Pregnant in the River

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It was 4:30 a.m. and two days before Thanksgiving at Jane Phillips Medical Center. Fluorescent lights blazed like eternal daylight on the ceiling of the labor room. The room’s once cool temperature was now a desert gale, sucking away at my careful deep breathing. 

Although designed to be inviting, it was still a hospital room. I felt like a skiff at open sea. Flat on my back and hooked to monitors, I faced each contraction like a surfer catching rogue waves. Composure capsized as my body took on the determined will of a baby coming out of his outgrown sanctuary.

My husband was present, but sick with a sinus infection. He slept upright on a nearby couch. Even the nurses were quiet as contractions got more intense and I listened to the rhythmic tick, tick of the baby’s heart monitor.

My doctor was out of town. His associate walked in as everything was set for delivery. Curly brown hair overtook crow’s feet and baggy eyelids. Blue scrubs on, he spoke to a nurse and nodded to me. Sweat broke out on his forehead as he waited to catch a baby in no hurry to exit. At last, with one final push, out popped Jonathan.

“Jesus Christ. He’s not breathing,” the doctor muttered.

At the end of my strength, I panicked. But in the next breath, an unexpected commando in me roared, “Jesus!”

The doctor looked up. My husband opened his eyes. The baby took a breath and cried.

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain in the world are simply birth pangs. But not only around us, it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs…Waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting.  (Romans 8 The Message)

Pregnant goes from theoretical to real life when we are the ones being stretched. The prophet Jeremiah reminds us we are stretched, not so we will break, but by His loving kindness. There’s more in us then we know. (Jeremiah 31:3)

I had a dream in January. Our son, now grown and 17 years old, and I were taking care of triplets. They weren’t our babies. But they were neglected, so we stepped in. We weren’t prepared for any babies, much less three. No formula, no diapers, no baby equipment. As Jonathan and I left to get formula, I worried about three babies waking up hungry.

Babies in our dreams often represent creativity, our ability to give birth to new ideas. A neglected baby may be an aspect of our gifts we are overlooking. They represent new beginnings – new beginnings that stretch us, that take time. They inconvenience our schedules and require what we have to seek outside of ourselves.

Like Jonathan’s birth, circumstances are rarely ideal. We may feel alone, outnumbered, and out-challenged. But help is only a cry away. We may have to call upon the inner commando of His Spirit. Composure may be lost. But the baby will come. It will breathe. It will need food and care.

My prayer this year is that we look within for infant dreams waiting to be born. I want my schedule to yield to their appearance, neither expected or convenient. I don’t want to neglect them by inattention or preconceived ideas. They might not look like what I expected. They may show up unannounced, like labor that presses a baby from the womb. I might not have the equipment I need. I might have to go get it.

But these dreams are good and they are from God. We can nourish them by our attention and affection. They compel heaven’s attention and release earth’s transformation – as we acknowledge their life inside and let them enlarge us.

Blessings,

Laurel Thomas