April Showers Bring May Flowers

May is often a hectic month with graduations, end of school events, Memorial Day weekend, and volatile, stormy weather. With a child who has a late May birthday, the culmination of these events nearly always interferes with party plans. Traditionally, intricate plotting and rescheduling is required (and one year, a full out cancellation after 3 reschedules).

This year, as I sent out rescheduled plans due to a severe thunderstorm forecast, I couldn’t help but reflect on how much the old adage “April showers bring May flowers” rarely seems to be true in our lives. The last several years, May has been full of tornadoes and life transitions. We have moved in May twice in the last 2 years. “May flowers, my foot,” I thought to myself as I reflected on how weather was once again interfering in birthday celebration plans.

Then, I remembered the child that the celebration is for. I remembered that he was due mid-June. But, 11 years ago, I woke up at 3 a.m. on a Sunday morning, Memorial Day weekend, to discover my water had broken. The baby was coming three weeks early! I hadn’t even finished packing my hospital bag. Waddling to the car, I listed items for my husband to grab. “And, the baby name book” I instructed over my shoulder. “You haven’t picked out a name?” our sitter exclaimed, incredulously. “I thought we had more time!” I wailed as I stepped outside.

Having chosen not to find out the sex of the baby before delivery, we discussed options en route and settled on a girl’s name as we parked in the hospital lot. Around noon, a lady from church peeked in our hospital room to check on our progress. “Do you still have that baby name book?” I asked.

“Do you still need it?” she answered with surprise. Unable to speak, I nodded vigorously. Realizing the moment was imminent, she handed the Bible name book to my husband and stepped out of the room. As the doctor coached my final pushes, my husband frantically flipped through the pages, throwing out suggestions that I kept declining with vigorous shakes of my head. “Are you sure you don’t like this name?” he asked, revisiting a name we had previously dismissed merely because a son had a close friend with that moniker. “What does it mean?” I panted. “Gift of God,” he replied. I nodded in affirmation. We decided on a middle name (from a grandfather who died before my husband was born) and one final push later the doctor announced, “It’s A Boy!!”

In hindsight, I have realized that God was indeed giving us a gift. For three autumns in a row, we experienced the joy of a new pregnancy. Yet, the first two of those pregnancies both ended in miscarriage. So, the arrival of this May baby was like a field of flowers after a few years of “April showers”. Which means that whatever inconveniences and frustrations we have in trying to celebrate this gift of God in our lives (from life upheavals to bad weather to scheduling conflicts) he is worth the effort in the end. And, he is a reminder that God really does send flowers after rain.


To Love a Child

“You will learn more about yourself through parenting than probably any other endeavor.” These wise words were spoken to me by my mother when I had just one, young, son. Nearly twenty years, and three additional boys, has certainly revealed things about myself that have thrilled my soul, as well as some not as pleasant. But, in my continued effort to fill my heart with good things, I find the following quote to hit the nail on the head:

Parenting is a journey–an inner journey, an outer journey and a journey of the heart. Parenting brings us to unimagined heights and unparalleled lows. It has the potential to transform our souls, heal our wounds and lift our hearts. But it also has the power to reduce us to tears, time and time again. Parenting can bring out the very worst in our behavior, even when our intentions are stellar. Every wart we thought we had hidden will somehow be exposed in the process of parenting. No experience has the potency to touch us, challenge us, or transform us like the process of loving a child. Parenting offers us lessons in how to grow and to strive and to seek. If we choose to open our hearts to the possibility of transformation, our children will teach us how to love, how to forgive and how to be full expressions of our deepest selves, if only we let them. Their love has the potential to crack open the hardest parts of our hearts, just as our love has the potential to carry them through their lives knowing they are cherished. Under the Chinaberry Tree: Books and Inspirations for Mindful Parenting, xiv.

I believe that parenting is one method of peeling back layers of ourselves that might otherwise remain unseen. But, it also wondrously highlights God’s unconditional, unchanging love for us. Knowledge of how he cherishes us does have the potential to carry us through all the ups and downs of this life. His love, so vast, so profound, reaches out and surrounds us like a comforting blanket.

Yet, within that same embrace, we have such a safe place for our “warts” to be revealed. Being in his presence is like holding up a life sized mirror showing our complete selves, all of our glorious beauty along with our imperfections. Just like we love our own sweet, precious sometimes rotten children despite any flawed behavior, he loves us completely, wholly.

However, the image of our reflection ultimately ought to begin to reflect less of our selves and more of our Savior. As he wraps us up in his loving embrace, he reaches into our darkest places, if we let him. He alone has the ability to replace those dark recesses with his brilliant glory (2 Cor. 3:18.) Parenting is certainly teaching me more about myself than I would have ever dared to ask. But, it is also teaching me more about my heavenly parent. I am more appreciative of being unconditionally loved as his child, warts and all, now that I have learned what it is to love a child, warts and all, unconditionally.