Count the Days

I just took William to his first day of preschool. Blink.

Yesterday, he began his last year of high school. Blink. Blink.

And the whole thing went exactly like they said.

When I gave birth to my baby, they told me to take it all in because the days would go fast, and I nodded. When I wondered if he’d ever sleep through the night, they warned me not to wish away one day. I thought I understood.

Today, everything in me wants to yell, Would the whole, wide world please stop talking to me about college? Don’t you know that my boy just started preschool?! And while you’re at it, would you all stop rushing me along? I’m just about to figure out how to be his mom.

But here we are. It’s William’s senior year.

For the record, every smart person who admonished me with a sassy, Oh, honey, he’ll be grown before you know it, was right. They were so dang right. And this very minute, it’s awful how completely right they still are. I have officially decided to never say that to anybody, ever. When you cannot change the length of one day, it kills you to be reminded, over and over, of how it’s all gonna be gone before you know it. Then, when they’re right, and the years are gone, you’re mad at everybody who ever said it.

My first 18 years on this earth lasted an eternity. I was there. I lived them. And I can still testify to the truth of it. Growing up took for-ev-er. When the first 18 years feel like an eternity, a mom cannot anticipate what will happen on the day her baby takes his first breath. I’ll tell you what happened. When my son was born, his first breath turned science on its head and blew up every space-time theory I memorized in physics.

Scholars might define time as the continued progression of existence and events in apparently irreversible succession. Then mathematicians would add that when you use the same interval (one year) to measure the same progression (the earth’s trip around the sun), the answer will always be the same. One year is one lap around the solar system, is four seasons, is twelve months, is 365ish days. When our boys become 18, they will have circled the same sun, and celebrated on the same day, the same number of times. The time that measures their years is all the same, scientifically speaking.

Moms with seniors in high school know all that gobbledygook is a big, fat lie.

Science, schmience.

Something happens the day they are born that quantum physics cannot explain. It’s a factor for which science has no measure. When a mother falls in love with her child, equations can no longer compute the length of days. The earth may circle the sun at exactly the same pace, but when days have been wrapped in a mother’s love, time is never measured the same. And this is the thing no one tells you.

To love a child changes everything. Every. Single. Thing.

All the science breaks down in the light of a mother’s love. Theories get rewritten. Logic is ruined. And time—well, when a mother loves a child, the time we have will never be enough.

If you’re not there yet, one of those days will finally be the first day of your son’s senior year. On that day, here’s what I want you to do.

Make sure you walk him outside where you can take his smirky first-day-of-school picture. Stand there and smile while he runs back into the house for things he’s forgotten. The years have taught you well and now it’s fun to know what’s coming. Watch him get all that stuff into his car, readjust his seat, and then take way too long to find just the right back-to-school music. Now wave like crazy as backs his car down the drive and then turns it toward the most exciting year he’s ever known. This is a good day, I promise. You’ve worked like a mad woman to keep that boy alive and get him safely here. It’s a really good day.

When you’re back in the house, I want you to take a few quiet minutes to count it all up. The years. The days. The adventures. The tears. Before you leave the quiet, I want you to factor this equation. Add these things together:

All his years
+ all that you’ve given
+ all the places
+ all the people
+ every obstacle
+ every victory

I can tell you in advance, the sum total of your memories will not equal anything close to eighteen years. The math falls apart every time. You see, God gives moms a greater gift with an equation that usually goes like this:

(Your son’s days) + (all your memories) x (the power of a mother’s love) = a blink.

If you count every one of his days until they are done and the sum total of it all is a blink, get down on your hands and knees and praise the One who entrusted that boy to your love. God has given you a beautiful gift.

It’s the kind of gift that makes me wonder…When a mother’s love counts the days, is that the tiniest foreshadowing of what is yet to be? Maybe when we are in the presence of God’s love, trying to count eternity by years will require another kind of calculation altogether.

A hymn writer seemed to be thinking about that very thing when he wrote, “My soul will sing your praise unending, ten thousand years and then forevermore.” Just maybe it was God’s plan all along. Maybe, when we have known a mother’s love for her child, we have tasted the great love of heaven.

So yes, I will never again say to anyone, That baby will be grown and gone before you know it. When I see a sweet mama holding her new baby, I think what I’m supposed to say is this:

I pray God does for you what he did for me. I hope when your boy is grown and the years have gone by, all those days feel to you like a blink. I’ve learned that the only way a length of years can ever equal a blink is when they have been lived in the presence of indescribable love.

Oh mama, I hope you blink.

For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.
Psalm 90:4

 

Count the Days, is an excerpt from Angela's recent book, 52 Things Sons Need From Their Moms.

Count the Days 2018-03-21T16:21:12+00:00

52 Things Kids Need From a Mom

This weekend I had the great, great joy of speaking to moms at LifeWay’s dotMOM Conference in Chattanooga, TN. In Friday’s break-out session, I spent an hour with some very fun moms covering a few of the topics in my book called, For the session, I printed the 52 chapter titles from the book to give to each of the ladies, but ran out of copies. They asked me to post those titles and I promised them I would.

Just in case you weren’t in my session, please read a bit of introduction before I give you the 52 Things:

I want you to know that I have written these 52 things as prompts. Ideas. Creative reminders. Two of my girlfriends read this list before it was published and both of them called me to say, ” I haven’t done even half of them. I hope there’s still time left.” So I want to tell you what I told them: There is no guilt intended for you with this list of chapter titles. They have not been written as a checklist for women who want to be impressive moms. Each of these chapters was written out of longing, desire and love.”

Some of you could write 1052 other things kids need from a mom. My friend with an autistic son could help us all learn so much more about patience and championing your child. My friend with adopted children would be able to give us lists of things kids need to adapt to a new culture and make the transition from orphanage to family. Another one of my friends spends almost every moment caring for her baby, who has had life-threatening issues and too many stays in the hospital. Oh, the things she could tell us.

A list of things for moms could become very intimidating, but I did not write one word of this book to be intimidating. I have written from grace and for grace. So with these words of introduction, here you go . . . 52 Things Kids Need From a Mom:

Kids need their mom:

  1. To pray in secret with the door open.
  2. To never stop touching them.
  3. To hang hearts of love over their lives.
  4. To watch them go out of sight.
  5. To keep a date night with dad.
  6. To make them sit around the table . . . and linger.
  7. To let her yes be yes and her no be no.
  8. To be delayed, rerouted and canceled with poise.
  9. To make them wait to take a bite.
  10. To take Christmas to people who have nothing.
  11. To miss a few things they do wrong.
  12. To put down the phone.
  13. To learn their unique love language.
  14. To occasionally be a supermom.
  15. To turn their beds down at night.
  16. To ride a roller coaster . . . for the first time.
  17. To talk to them like they are fascinating.
  18. To treat their friends like family.
  19. To cheer wildly from the stands.
  20. To give grace-filled consequences.
  21. To be a passionate, alive, spiritual lover of God.
  22. To indulge their silly.
  23. To have a hallelujah party.
  24. To keep a family blog.
  25. To become physically and emotionally healthy.
  26. To become spiritually healty.
  27. To believe they will not grunt forever.
  28. To make a big deal out of God.
  29. To keep her promise.
  30. To wait on them hand and foot . . . they are sick.
  31. To tell them to buy another token and keep swinging.
  32. To pray them home and for the will of God.
  33. To be a “groovy” mom.
  34. To teach them how to know the voice of God.
  35. To believe in their strengths and speak life into their gifts.
  36. To make a home where grace lives.
  37. To throw down the “MOM card.”
  38. To tell them what she’d do differently.
  39. To make a big deal out of grandparents and extended family.
  40. To teach them how to keep their money straight, in order, facing the same direction.
  41. To be patient about things like thumb-sucking and pacifiers.
  42. To let them make really dumb mistakes without condemnation.
  43. To introduce them to her friend named Jesus.
  44. To set the tone for the family.
  45. To teach them to genuinely respect all people, cultures, denominations and creeds.
  46. To teach the boys how to love a wife.
  47. To teach the girls how to love a husband.
  48. To identify the characteristics of a fool and tell them what to do when they meet one.
  49. To train them to listen to her.
  50. To teach them not to be easily offended.
  51. To live as single moms with amazing lives.
  52. To teach them a gracious and generous hospitality.

A couple more thoughts before I leave you. The list you just read is a list of CHAPTER TITLES, not rules to keep. This list is not exhaustive by any stretch of the imagination, nor have I just given you the be-all-end-all of motherhood. These things were written because of God’s grace to me and they are only intended as encouragement to you.

I am running alongside you, longing to love them well today.

Angela

PS – if you’d like to read the chapters that belong to the titles, you can order 52 Things here.

52 Things Kids Need From a Mom 2018-02-21T12:26:36+00:00

Happy New Year!

Looking back at 2012, my heart is filled with all kinds of emotion and tenderness. My head is full of places, experiences, lessons and the faces of so many dear people. All day I have been searching for just the right words to describe a year so high and so low. But only one word will come. Grateful. For all of 2012, I am grateful.

I’m grateful to be the daughter of Novie Thomas. Grateful for her life. Her lessons to me. Her love for my daddy and our family. I’m grateful the last months of her life were spent here in our home. It was such an honor to serve her, to help daddy care for her, to cook for her, to put lotion on her hands and feet.

Mama and Daddy at our house, Thanksgiving 2011

Mama and Daddy at our house, Thanksgiving 2011

Downstairs on my stove there are collard greens cooking. I have never made collards in my life. Mama did that. But it’s the first day of the year, and mama taught this family there are certain things you’re supposed to eat on New Year’s Day. Humble food reminds us how to begin the new year. So for supper tonight: Novie’s collard greens, black-eyed peas, ham and cornbread. I have already tasted what’s cooking. It’s gonna be okay, but nothing like mama would have made. I miss her so much but I’m grateful she’s cooking for all of heaven tonight. Healed. Singing. No more suffering. No more pain.

This year I’m still filled with gratefulness for my beautiful husband, Scott and the four children who are the joy of our lives. We traveled the world together this year and God opened our eyes afresh to His wonders, His love and His grace. These people in our family are the easiest, funniest, most creative people I’ve ever met. I’m so grateful they are mine and I am theirs.

Our family somewhere near Cochabamba, Bolivia with World Vision - June 2012

Our family somewhere near Cochabamba, Bolivia with World Vision – June 2012

This past year of ministry has been profound and changing. The Bible is alive and vivid to me. I am captured anew by the riches of God’s word and it’s power to transform lives. Honored to meet beautiful women this world over, bonding over the sweetness of belonging to Christ. Seeing women give their lives to Christ. Every place. Every church. Every soul. I am, more than words can say, so very grateful for it all.

Beautiful Life 2012

Beautiful Life 2012

And oh, sweet Jesus, I am grateful for you. The more I learn about you, the more I am humbled by your greatness, your strength, your everlasting love. You forgave my sins and I will never, ever get over your sacrifice for me. In 2013, I will return each breath you give to me, with praise. My life is yours. My mind. My steps. My heart. Use it all for your glory.

So I turn with anticipation toward this year. Standing on tippy toes. Anxious to see Him.

 

Happy New Year! 2018-02-21T12:26:37+00:00

People Change

People change, you know.

I have never been interested in gardening. Too busy. Too many people in my house for flower growing. Too little time. All these homeowner years, I have only maintained my flowerbeds by plopping some annual color in the ground that faithfully turned brown by mid-July.

Then something happened a while back. I decided that I really like roses.

Everyone said, “Don’t think about roses, they’re too hard.” But. But. But. But my heart had changed it’s mind. Roses had become beautiful to me, something like the sweet, simple, complex, grandeur of God in a flower. I wanted to try, just one time, to grow a something beautiful, so I planted roses.

Actually, I bought roses (the kind that were half-dead, on sale, at the back of Walmart so if they died I had only wasted five bucks), read about pruning and feeding, then stood smiling while Scott dug a hole in the ground where we planted all my rose-growing hope.

Here is what I found in my backyard this morning . . . mid-July.

I have a feeling the months of this rose lesson is intended for something deeper inside of me. People can change. What has long gone unnoticed can finally, one day, be seen. Appreciated. Loved.

I am changing. And I hear the Lord whisper . . . Open your eyes wider. You’ve missed so much. I have greater things to show you.

Are you changing too?

People Change 2018-02-21T12:26:38+00:00