Today is my birthday. I’m 34, which means I’m too old to get carded (and to be out late enough for that to apply, by the way) but too young to really be taken seriously when I talk about joint pain. In celebration of this day, which is also United Nations Day, for those of you in touch with Butros Butros Ghali, here are some tidbits I’ve learned after 34 years of hard living:
1. One should always wear a belt when doing yard work. It’s just the polite thing to do.
2. When in doubt, make a list, particularly for husbands and male children. Case in point: One morning this week, we were neck-deep in the before-school-hysterics phase. Do you know this phase? The one where everyone is running around in their p.j.s and not eating their breakfasts and then spill orange juice on the floor and, inexplicably, into their hair? We were in the hair part and I was trying to remember what Jesus would do. Cue screaming, this time Mitchell and coming from the living room. When I walked in, he was standing, holding his head with one hand and a very, lethally sharp pencil in the other.
Me: Mitch, did you hit your head?
Me: Honey, I can’t understand you. What happened?
Me (sounding way more like mean old Herod than shepherdly Jesus): MITCH! USE ENGLISH WORDS RIGHT NOW!
(Translation: Mom, please help me! I know it’s hard to believe, but I just stuck this pencil into my eye! No kidding!)
So we went to the eye people who are super nice and cornea-saving. But MAN, is it creepy to hear a man wearing what looks like spelunking equipment on his head say, “Yep, that’s the tip of a pencil in there. But I think it’s surface enough we won’t have to DIG IT OUT.” Then, with one look at the horror on my face, he added, “We have to do that sometimes.”
When prompted, Mitchell explained why he had been pointing a sharp pencil at his eyeball, especially when we’ve covered the whole “Don’t-run-with-sharp-objects” discussion. “Mom,” he answered patiently, “I wasn’t running. I was jumping.”
So Number Two: When in doubt, make a comprehensive list, forgetting nothing, including “jumping.”
3. The swine flu isn’t really that bad. Also, I’m not supposed to call it “swine flu” because I live in Iowa and we’re very sensitive about pork.
4. Job was right.
The Lord gives….In mid-September, my dear friends Amy and Greg held their baby girl for the first time. Baby Kate was particularly celebrated. She is their third child but in between the last two, Amy lost three babies halfway through her pregnancies. THREE. But God was faithful to answer so many prayers and soon I’ll be able to kiss those chubby cheeks so long awaited.
…and the Lord takes away. This week, two sets of parents we know and love lost their children to untimely deaths. One child still in the womb, the other 29 years out, both beloved and gone in the wrong order of things. Marc and I ache for these friends, knowing well how it feels to collapse at the gates of heaven asking why, exactly, we were made to mourn, why our arms were empty, why God moves in mysterious, sometimes indiscernible ways.
The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. At the risk of sounding trite, I know that I know that God’s name is to be blessed. And today I bless it. Thanks, God, for a great ride. You are good, even in, especially in times when we cling to You, beat Your chest with our fists, and crumple in a heap on Your lap. Thanks for creating me, protecting me, and pursuing me with Your love. Here’s to many more lessons along the way.