I know full well that if I write about us having a peaceful, calm, happy week, next week will be an absolutely horrible one. But...here goes anyway.
Elaine has been sick this week with a persistent fever and a cough. She's been miserable, yet so sweet, calmly lying on the sofa or the wing chair, alternately watching "The Rescuers" and "101 Dalmatians" (or as she calls them "The Rescue-Mes" and "Roger and All the Puppies") and sleeping. Lucy has been very solicitous of her as well. Here are they are yesterday in the little house they made. (For some reason, Elaine looks like she has the hugest beer belly, when really she's hardly eaten a thing all week.)
Maybe it's because we've had a little more time to slow down lately, but both girls have been unusually introspective this week as well. When Lucy was about 2, I picked up this book at a used book sale.
She has long since moved on from it, but I dug it out again for Elaine. She is much more active than Lucy and has a harder time sitting still and listening for longer periods of time. But these little stories are perfect for her. Each one is about a little brother and sister named Jeff and Julie. While Lucy is at school in the morning, Elaine and I read this book together. She runs to the shelf and calls, "I'm getting my book, Mom, so we can do my dee-botions!" Then we read, and she flips back through ones we've read previously, tells me each little story, and then prays for Jeff and Julie about whatever situation they found themselves in that particular time: lost at the grocery store, afraid of the dark, nervous about going to daycare, etc.
Lucy, ever since she could talk, has engaged us in deep conversations about God, heaven, death, angels, Satan, you name it. Elaine just does not do that, at least not yet. However, this week, she has come to me numerous times--while I'm working around the house or at the computer or rocking her before bed--and asked, "Does God love me?"
I will tell you one thing about that little girl though: she is a pray-er. We'll be in the car, and she'll call out, "Wait! We forgot to pray!" And even if we're just heading to the store or the swim club, we'll take the time to pray. One of Darren's co-workers had some health difficulties with one of his sons. We all prayed for him, but that was several weeks ago and Elaine is still praying for him every day. At meals she'll say, "Dear Jesus, thank you for this lovely food. Thank you for Lucy and me. I pray for that little boy who had to go to the doctor and the hospital and the dentist. Amen." (I guess she's covering all the bases.)
Before Lucy goes to school each day, she and I sit in the rocking chair and pray that she'll have a good day, obey her teacher, be kind to the other kids; and then we pray for her teachers as well. Elaine doesn't want to be left out, so she climbs up and prays for Lucy too. Throughout the day, no matter where we are, there's a good chance I'll hear that gravelly little voice call out, "Wait! We forgot to pray!" At 3 years old, she doesn't have all the vocabulary, but she's got the heart and the desire.
As for Lucy, it's been hard to find a good devotional book so I had been using a classic from my childhood, actually the second in a 2-parter: "More Little Visits with God." It is an excellent tool, though it was somewhat dated in language and scenarios. We were working around that, but then I happened to check on amazon and found this updated version, so I ordered it right away:
We are absolutely loving this, and I can't recommend it highly enough. It's set out with a verse for each day, a devotional, some questions to ask, then a prayer. As well, there is a more extensive Bible passage for older children to read.
Though we normally do devotions at bedtime, Lucy came to me the other day, holding the book and said earnestly, "Mommy, will you read one of these devotions to me right now? I just love the Lord so much, and I want to know more about Him from this book." As you can imagine, I dropped everything I was doing, and we read.
Another book we've been reading over the last two weeks is Patricia St. John's The Tanglewoods Secret. I have vivid memories of my dad reading her books to me as a child, Treasures of the Snow, Star of Light, and of course Rainbow Garden--from which we got Elaine's name. Each of her novels is told, in first person, from the point of view of a child. Each is filled with adventure and nature as well as some of the most beautiful prose I've read in any children's books.
Last night we finished the book, and Lucy had to go get me some Kleenex. If you can read the book and then get to this portion without losing it, you are stronger than I am:
"It was a framed picture of a meadow of clean white sheep all walking one way and nibbling the grass as they went. In front of them walked the Shepherd, and in His arms lay a little lamb peacefully asleep.[Note: we have this picture hanging in the girls' room. I bought it when I was expecting Lucy, in honor of this book.] It was Terry who broke the silence.
"'Where's 'e carryin' 'im to?' he asked suddenly in his freful voice.
'Home, Terry,' answered Mr. Robinson, with a look on his face that I did not then understand. 'Safely through each day until they get home. Home is where the Shepherd lives and where we see Him face to face. Shall I read you something about Home, Terry?...and he read in his clear voice, 'And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.'
There was another long silence, broken again by Terry. 'So!' he whispered. 'No more pain!'...
There were many footsteps up and down in the house that night while we lay asleep, for my aunt and Terry's mother did not go to bed at all, and the doctor arrived just before midnight. No one heard the feet of the Good Shepherd when He drew near and picked Terry up in His arms.
So Philip's prayer was answered in a way we had never dreamed. Before the sun had risen again, while the stars were still high in the sky, Terry had left his twisted, suffering body, and all his pain behind him forever. The Shepherd had carried him Home.
In this introspective mood we've all been in this last week or so, I have thought of the myriad responsibilities of a mother. Each week, Lucy comes home with some sort of project "she" aka ME needs to get done, and those responsibilities will only increase with each year of school. Is Lucy on target with her reading? I think about both girls' academic progress, the future of their education. I think about the best activities for them to be involved in. How are both of them doing with their manners--are they kind and polite to others? Are they sleeping enough? Am I taking care of their dry skin? When is the last time I clipped their nails? Does Lucy have clean uniforms for this week? Are they eating right? (Just pick up a copy of the book Eat This, Not That and see how horribly you've been feeding your kids even if you think you've been trying to help them make healthy choices.) Are we having enough fun?
It is overwhelming sometimes, raising these little people to be healthy and happy. So many times I am so tired, too tired to get it all done, and I'm sure I've blown it once again this week. There are too many things I simply fall down in. I can't get it all done, let alone done well.
If you've read this blog for any length of time, you know my deep love for the book Stepping Heavenward. In it, there is a quote that Katy says of her mother and that I certainly say of my own dear mother: "It is to her I owe my early love for the Lord Jesus, which seems to have no beginning or end, though it has had its fluctuations."
Though I may drop the ball in any other section of life, amidst all my responsibilities and priorities as a mother, that is what I pray for above all else.