Thursday, March 16, 2017

We Carry Each Other

A tiny child grows in a mother’s womb.  She carries him within her, keeping him warm and protected wrapped in her skin, within arm’s reach of her heart.  She runs her hands over the swelling curve and dreams of the life he will have, the life she will help make for him.  Her body grows slow and unwieldy as it expands to accommodate the sweet child.  She considers him in every breath she takes, every food she eats, and every drink she drinks.  She holds him in her mind until she can hold him in her arms.   
This is life—we carry each other.
A big, brawny toddler wakes in the middle of the night.  His forehead is warm against the cool of his mother’s hand.  She lifts him out of his crib and carries his weight, heavy and sleeping, down the long hallway to her bed.  His legs hang down below her waist—in the daylight he will refuse to be carried, enjoying instead his newfound independence, but in the dark of the night he is her baby once again.  Tonight he will sleep with his head against her chest, and she will wake often to evaluate the ebb and flow of his fever.    
This is life—we carry each other.
A bride, still in white, is whisked away from the wedding by her groom.  He carries her across the threshold and into their future together.  His arms feel strong around her, and although hers are not as firm, they circle around his neck in a reassuring embrace.  They look into each other’s eyes and silently repeat the promises made:  I will…I promise…I do.  They do not know what challenges they will face, but they have promised to face them together. 
This is life—we carry each other.
A group of six friends gather around a coffin, and each one takes hold.  They carry their friend to his resting place.  The coffin is terribly heavy, but the grief is heavier; it settles over the heart like a thick, grey fog.  Intermittently the fog lifts as the funeral party retells familiar stories of the departed, laughing together over their favorites.  The women carry tissues in one hand, ever-ready to wipe the tears that flow at increments like clockwork when the bell tolls and one suddenly remembers: he’s really gone 
This is life—we carry each other.
A widow carries on with her life, with motions slowed like someone moving through water.  Her daughters visit, her friends bring her food, and her village carries her to the Lord in prayer.  They carefully watch her countenance and try to protect her heart as she wanders on a long walk with sadness.  They all carry the memories of the departed, but she will always carry the most.
This is life—we carry each other.
Carry each other. 
“Carry each other’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”  Galations 6:2

Monday, January 9, 2017

Children's Book Recommendations

I love getting books from the library to read to my kids.  I go about once a week to turn some in or pick up a handful more.  In case anybody else out there is looking for a great children’s book to check out or even buy for a baby shower, I’ll publish my list of top notch literature for kiddos under 5 here. 

In no particular order, my favorite children’s books we read in 2016:

Bill in a China Shop—Katie McAllaster Weaver

A rhyming book (I’m partial to those) about a bull who loves fancy china plates and cups, but faces the wrath of a snooty china shop owner and battles the impossibility of an animal his size trying to navigate the delicate world of fine tableware. 

EIEIO: How Old McDonald got his Farm—Judy Sierra

A modern spin on an old tale.  In this version McDonald is a novice urban farmer who’s looking for a way to use his backyard for something besides mowing grass…because he can’t stand mowing grass. 

Ugly Fish—Kara LaReau and Scott Magoon

Ugly fish doesn’t want to share his tank or his food or his toys, but he’s about to learn that being ugly won’t get you far in life…  WARNING!! (and spoiler alert) Ugly fish eats other fish and is ultimately eaten himself—this book could be upsetting to more sensitive children.  My kids…well…they laughed.  So there’s that.

The Gruffalo—Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

There’s no such thing as a Gruffalo…or is there? A tiny mouse with a big imagination and an uncanny ability to think on his feet is the hero of this story. 

Waiting—Kevin Henkes

Waiting is a quiet story, with soft pastel illustrations, but don’t mistake its softness for a lack of substance.  It uses sweet toys sitting on a shelf to softly explore concepts like seasons of the year, loss, introduction of new things, and patience.  A beautiful book.

Stick and Stone—Beth Ferry and Tim Lightenfeld

Stick and Stone are very different, but together their friendship can weather any storm.  A great book on the power of working together and using one’s strengths for good.

Blue Chicken—Deborah Freedman

The mischievous little chicken doesn’t start out blue, but after an accident with some unattended paint, lots of things turn blue around the farm.  Gorgeous watercolor illustrations help to tell this story—an ideal book for a little person who’s working on learning his/her colors!

The Nice Book—David Ezra Stein

Very few words in this book, probably most suited for children under three years old.  The nice book offers easy-to-understand illustrations of sharing and caring.

The Tree House that Jack Built—Bonnie Verburg and Mark Teague

Jack is imaginative, creative, constructive, and a lover of animals.  His treehouse is a masterpiece.  The story feels both adventurous and safe.  This book ends with a ‘goodnight’ and would be a great book before bed—it would inspire wonderful dreams.
Now go read!!