Wednesday, August 24, 2011

God's Snake

I am spending the week with my husband’s family up in Washington in the San Juan Islands. During this week, I get to spend some time with my little 4 1/2 year old niece who I don’t see all the often. I’m never around children this age. Most of our friends have babies or I work with kids in school who are older. So, it took me awhile to get used to the incessant talking and obsession with princesses and pink. However, I learned that there is something about 4 1/2s that intrigue me. They wander through life, enchanted by everything, puzzled by the obvious and exude such a contagious excitement for life that it’s hard not to jump up and down every time an ice cream cone is offered.
 I saw the world through the eyes of this little one, and within a few days, I began to view the world with the amazement it deserves. 
One sunny day, my niece and I went exploring around the backyard of the little house. I held her hand as she ran around the dry grass, her blue eyes full of excitement and her blond curls bouncing. 
“Come on Aunt Theresa. Let’s look over here!” We saw a rock with moss. It wasn’t even the neon green, spongy moss that entices you to run your hands over it. Yet, she noticed it and was completely enthralled. Suddenly, a gardener snake slithered out from behind the rock, through the grass. She grabbed my hand and shrieked in fear.
“It’s ok,” I said, “God made that snake.” She looked up at me, perplexed, trying to make sense of what I just told her. “You mean it’s God’s snake?”  she asked.
“Yes. And he made it for you so you can look at him.” She paused, looked at the snake and shrugged, venturing on to the next exhibit. 

Soon we came upon it: Mr. Slug. “ Yuck. Gross.” She backed away from the slug, her eyes gazing at it’s slimy trail in disgust. I leaned down, encouraging her to follow my lead. 
“It’s ok. It’s only a slug. He is trying to get home, just like we have a home. God made it.” 

Again, she paused and looked at me, trying to decide if what I said made any sense at all. “ So it’s God’s slug?”  
“Yep, it’s God’s slug.”
Then all at once the area in the backyard we were standing in seemed to come alive. A dragonfly danced passed us, a grasshopper leapt over a rock, a fly buzzed through the air. 
“It’s God’s Dragonfly! It’s God’s cricket! It’s God’s fly!” 
The world around us suddenly got exhilarating as she made the connection that everything around her was God’s and he put it here for her.

Later that night as I sat outside alone on the back porch over looking that ocean and the mountains, a deep red glow enveloped me. I stopped what I was reading and simply looked up. Never has a glow like this so completely consumed me. It was eerie and all I could do was stop and look up. The clouds were on fire, as if a match ignited a single corner of the sky, spreading and sweeping everything up in a brilliant blaze.  Suddenly I felt the excitement that my little niece had for the world around her swell within me. 
“It’s God’s glow,” I whispered to myself. 
And I couldn’t stop staring. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My Daughter- Knitted Together within Me

Ever have one of those moments when you truly felt like life was happening around you and not to you? I had one of those moments last week when the doctor told me we were going to have a daughter. In my mind, I already picked out HIS bedroom, HIS name, and I felt HIS kicks. 
. Our appointment was marked in big blue letters on my calendar, and it had been something I had anticipated for months. The BIG appointment. The 20-week ultrasound that examined every limb, organ and…eh…other regions. I had taken various on-line gender predictor tests and researched all the wives tale signs and everything pointed to a boy. There was actually no doubt in my mind, and I think I even convinced everyone else that we were having a boy too. I started the morning off getting a filling at the dentist, which left my mouth numb and sore. I ran errands. Cleaned the kitchen from last night’s dinner party at our house. I tried anything to distract myself as I anxiously watched the clock. John admitted that he couldn’t think about the appointment because it made his nervous, anxious and excited. I felt the same way. I think I felt this way because this was the moment when everything was truly validated. For months now I’ve watched my stomach grow; I’ve felt sick; I was tired; I knew I was pregnant, but the mystery of what was actually growing inside of me would finally be revealed. Would he/she have all the limbs? A spine? Would we have a son (like I truly believed) or a daughter? 
As I laid down on the ultrasound examining table, John reached over and took my hand. Suddenly, on the screen appeared fuzzy images. I anxiously tried to figure out what I was looking at. A head? A leg? What was it?! The doctor proceeded to examine each limb, each organ and measure the growth of me. John and I scanned the screen, straining to spot the one organ that would confirm that our baby was indeed a boy. “Wait.there it is!” 
“Nope, that is only the umbilical cord.”
Where is IT!? Where is IT?!!
The technician looked at us and smiled. “You guys are having a girl.
A GIRL?! John looked over at me and smiled. His gaze met mine, and in them he was saying to me, “Well, let the adventure begin!.”
I stared at wonderment at the screen. Our daughter.
I was amazed how each vertebra, each finger, each part was so masterfully crafted. How did all this happen?! I just get up everyday, eat food and go about my business. Yet, during all this, a human being was being created inside of me. The other day I read Psalm 139, a verse I have read so many times before. Yet, it hit me differently this time, and as I looked at the ultrasound pictures of our daughter, I actually had tears form at the corner of my eyelids. For you created my inmost being; 
you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 

 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 
your works are wonderful,  I know that full well. 

 My frame was not hidden from you 
when I was made in the secret place, 
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 

 Your eyes saw my unformed body; 
all the days ordained for me were written in your book 
before one of them came to be.

 Never in my life have I felt such immediate affection for someone. This life, this child was the epitome of innocence. It was being formed and created within me and it had no say whether it lived or what was to happen to it next. My instinct was to protect and care for this baby, and I suddenly felt the overwhelming sense of responsibility that it was the job of my husband and I to teach this child right from wrong.

Suddenly I saw the world differently.

During the next few days as I was trying to process having a daughter, everything around me was tinted pink. The women in the magazines were too sexy and airbrushed. The men gazed too long at the pre-teens in the short shorts at the mall. The statistics on the news about the young girls being sold into the sex trade were suddenly terrifying. The world  suddenly became the enemy; yet, I don’t want to view it this way at all.

So now I begin to think, and wrestle, with how to raise a child in this world without her being consumed by it? Is it possible to preserve the innocence that I observed as she nestled within my womb? She will come without an instruction manual. 
But as I sit here and type, this daughter within me is kicking around, reminding me that she is going to immerge eventually. So ready or not, here she comes. And I couldn’t be more excited.