The Best Decisions

Yesterday, Isaac made a bad decision.  While I was cleaning in the kitchen, he decided to find a can of Diet Coke, open it, and pour it into the spinning fan inside the air conditioning unit in the backyard.  I saw him out of the kitchen window, just as he was finishing off the can and watching the last of the soda splatter onto the house and grass.

I quickly opened the window and called him inside.  I told him that what he had just done was unwise.  Actually, I told him in a very loud and stern voice that he had just made a very dumb decision. (I never claimed to be a perfect parent!)

I told Asher the same thing today when he decided to sneak into my bag and open a container of homemade trail mix and eat it in the car.  When I caught him eating it, he spilled it all over the back seat.  Then he continued to quickly pick it up off the floor and shove it into his mouth as if he may never get a chance to eat again.

Through out the day, I calmly reminded my boys that they are smart.  That they are wonderfully intelligent for their age, but that they had a choice to make wise decisions or not.  The trick is to think before you act.  Today, we judged every decision after it was made.  I praised them for making wise decisions all day long and I sternly reminded them that some decisions they had made were dumb (tomorrow I'll remember to use the word unwise).  Again, not going for the parent of the year award anytime soon (remind me to tell you about the dumb decision I made to bring my boys to Rocklahoma this year)…

Little did I know that Isaac would make the wisest decision he will ever make, tonight, as a six year old.  He's actually done it multiple times.  Tonight, I was on my way home from a pool party with my small group, when I got a phone call.  

"Hello?" I answered.

"Hi, Isaac has something to tell you." Randall said into the phone.

I had a few seconds to speculate as Randall handed the phone off to Isaac.  My first thought was that Isaac would say something silly, then my cynical side kicked in, it's 9:45pm and he should have been in bed well over an hour ago, he did something naughty and Randall's making him own up to it…

"Hi Mommy, I believe in Jesus." Isaac said.

"What, baby?" I heard and understood what he said but I wanted to hear him say it again.

"I believe in Jesus." He repeated.  Then Asher repeated it, again:

"I believe in Jesus, too." Asher said.

"Let Isaac tell it." Randall subdued him. "Tell Mommy what you did tonight."

"I asked Jesus to be my forever friend." Isaac stated.

"Do you think he will?" I asked.

"Yes!" Isaac said.

I told him how proud of him I was and that I'd be home soon to hear all about it.  When I got home, he was fast asleep.  Randall relayed the story to me:  Asher and Randall were talking about baptism and Isaac came in in the middle of the conversation.  Isaac claimed to know all about baptism and so Randall decide to see what Isaac knew.  He was pretty right on.  Randall reminded Isaac that baptism is what people do to show others that they believe in Jesus and have asked for his forgiveness and want to follow in his example for the rest of their lives.  Isaac said, "Yeah, I know, I've already done all that."  Which is true.  Isaac really has, on multiple occasions asked God to come and live in his heart but he did it again tonight.  Randall said that Isaac asked to live in Jesus' heart, and asked God to forgive him and asked him to be his forever friend.  All on his own.

It is the wisest decision anyone will ever make.  It needs only to be made once, for God will never leave you or break that friendship, but it is a decision we make day in and day out to follow Him.

Just this weekend a friend told me that both of her sons were getting baptized this June.  I could not contain my emotion.  I was thrilled for her and her boys, that is the day I cannot wait for!  More than anything in this world, I want my boys to know and follow hard after God.

God, we all make stupid decisions sometimes.  But I know you are celebrating in Heaven right now for the decision Isaac just made.  Please hold him in your hands and never let him go, just as you promised.  May this decision be a meaningful and lasting decision.  May he continue to choose daily to follow you.  I am so excited, not just because his place in Heaven is set, but because he will be walking with you for every other tough decision he will make in this life.  When he is faced with a bully sometime in elementary school, he will have your Spirit as his guide.  When he is emotional and distant with me in middle school, You will be close to him.  When he is faced with life altering decisions in high school and college, you have promised never to leave him nor forsake him.  Light his path and direct his feet.  Bless him and help him to bless others.  Thank you for loving my boy even more than I do!  It's incomprehensible to me but it's true.  You have been looking forward to this day since time began.  Though you never force us to choose anything, though we have a world of choices to make, you knew that my boy would choose you on this day.  I rejoice with you and the angels today.  AMEN

 

For you to notice

Last March, on Randall’s birthday to be exact, I lost Isaac.  I was inside cleaning up after birthday dinner.  It was an unseasonably warm day.  Wait.  We live in St. Louis.  Is there such a thing as seasonable weather?  It changes so often and surprises us so much that it’s like an episode of 24: predictably unpredictable.  Anyway, it was a beautiful evening.  I was inside and couldn’t find Isaac anywhere.

I looked out my front window and saw Isaac dressed in a spiderman cape, straight out of a Mexican wrestling rink, standing in our plum tree.  He was staring out at the cars as they passed.  I knew exactly what he was doing.  Waiting to be noticed.

 

I remember shopping with my mom as a kid.  She’d do her thing and I’d stand in the store front window as still as possible pretending to be a mannequin. The idea was to blend in with the mannequins but in reality, I think I wanted to stand out.  I wanted to be noticed.

I’ve seen my boys do it before: put on their super hero garb and stand in the front yard just waiting for a car to pass.

 

Often people would look and smile, some would stop and say “hi,” and others wouldn’t notice at all.  The ones that don’t notice Spiderman in the front yard often offend Asher.  When he was smaller, he’d even cry if a driver didn’t see him.

 

As introverted as a person can get, we all still want to be noticed, don’t we?  Something within us longs to be seen, to stand out in a crowd.  I still have that desire.

I watched God Grew Tired of Us, a documentary about the Lost Boys of Sudan.  During a civil war in the ’80s, over 20,000 boys fled their homes and their families to escape death and seek refuge in Ethiopia and Kenya.  Two thirds of them died along the way but the strong that escaped made home in refugee camps with their Sudanese brothers.  Times were still hard in the camps.  They didn’t always have food, they didn’t always have shelter but they did always have community.  A few thousand of these boys, a decade later were transported to the United States to live and work in freedom.  Here in the states, they worked like Americans, where “time is money.”  Many of them were forced to work more than one job to pay the bills, but they still sent every extra penny they had home to their families, their refugee brothers, or their biological families if they could find them.

The trailer for the documentary says it is a story of hope.  I did not get that feeling from the documentary.  In America, these men had food, work and shelter, even beds and blankets and pillows.  They had luxuries like a television and a telephone, but they lost their families.  Even though they were often living in the same building as each other, they were working so hard, they rarely saw each other.  The documentary followed a few boys closely and they seemed to long for friendship; commaraderie; relationship.  As much as they may have stood out in a crowd, they still lived unnoticed, they still were not seen for who they were.

I was telling my friend about the documentary and her eyes filled with tears.  She said she felt sorry for the boys who were left behind.  My thought was opposite.  Food, water, shelter, these are neccesary for life, but where does relationship fit in?  I felt sorry for those who were chosen to come to the land of plenty to work to support themselves, and their families.

Work is good.  I think most people feel blessed to have jobs.  God created man (and woman) to work.  It gives us a sense of purpose.  It helps make the world run smoothly.  Work is good.  But I do not believe it is meant to consume us so completely as it often does.

Who we are is not what we do.  Who we are is what is in our hearts, minds, and souls.  We need to be seen for who we are.  When Isaac and Asher are playing dress up, they want to be seen as heroes.  They want to be admired but mostly, just noticed.

Isaac, I see you for who you are.  You are beautiful, but so much more than that.  You are smart.  You are a daddy’s boy.  You are courageous and inquisitive.  You love others well.  You love to entertain.  You are my boy and I love you for the hard headed, energetic, silly boy you are.

Asher, I see you for who you are.  You are adorable, but so much more than that.  You are kind hearted.  You have a passion for animals.  You are smart and caring.  You are a leader and you think for yourself.  You give the best hugs I have ever received and I wish I could hold you forever in my arms.  You are my boy and I love you for the sweet, rambunctious, Basher you are.

God, may these boys find their identity in You.  May they come to terms with who you made them to be.  May they embrace their strengths and be cautious of their faults. Remind me to stop and notice them every once in a while between instruction, guidance, discipline, and play time.  You have made masterpieces in these boys and I am grateful that you have given me such precious gifts.  I can’t wait to watch them as they grow and change and become more like… themselves.  I pray that they grow and change and become more like You at the same time.  Thank you for giving us all the perfect example in your son, Jesus.  Thank you for noticing us and loving us right where we are.