I was honored to participate in a fantastic author Q&A with my good friend and fellow blogger Amber Blackburn. If you'd like to read more about the inception, motivation, and story behind writing Helicopter Mom, this is the post for you!
I sat in church yesterday, not my own home church, but one about 15 minutes away from our town. I was there to pray with and for a fellow family with a Down syndrome baby. We had never met before yesterday, except online through our local Ds chapter, but I had felt the pull to join this sweet family this day and lock-step in prayer over their baby.
Little Stella is only 7 months younger than Anna and is scheduled for heart surgery this coming Friday. We have been blessed in that Anna only had minor heart issues, which God healed over time, and she hasn't had to go through any major surgeries or procedures. And yet, my momma-heart very much feels for those with little ones that do have to endure these medical procedures. I can imagine only too well the fear, anxiety, and worry that permeates for many of their days. For this reason I wanted to reach out in a very small way and join them before our Great Father.
At the end of the worship time, the leader led a beautiful rendition of Great Is Thy Faithfulness which commenced in the congregation singing Jesus Loves Me in acapella. It was the most powerful time I've ever experienced with this song. I think the difference was the position of me, the singer. For the hundreds of times (perhaps thousands?) that I've sung this song... from my own childhood to now over my children... I've always remained singing it as a child (of God) would. Yesterday for some reason, I sang it as a mother. It was gut-wrenchingly raw and honest for me; as a mother of a special needs baby, joining another mother with a baby getting ready to have major surgery... well, this song transformed into a prayer. A mother's prayer of acknowledgment and hope, fear and faith.
Man these sweet words hit me so hard. I was a sobbing mess by the end and I literally couldn't finish singing. (I'm sure those around me thought something was seriously wrong with the stranger holding the baby blubbering to Jesus Loves me in their midst.) "Little ones to HIM belong, (though) they are weak, BUT HE IS STRONG!" Wow. What a simple but powerful message for parents. We only get the honor of shepherding them for a time. Our children are not our own, they are His. They were His long before we ever got custody, and they will be His long after we are gone. We need to not only accept this fact, but rest and find peace in it! And let us take it a step further- we can REJOICE in it!
When our children are weak- weak eyes, weak limbs, weak ears, weak tummies, weak hearts... then He is strong for them. What a comforting thought. Many of our most extra precious children's bodies are 'weak' in multiple ways. Their bodies do not work as strongly as they should... but in that God's work is being done and He is being glorified in those weak areas even now. Praise the Lord.
I will probably never sing Jesus Loves Me the same way again. It's meaning and impact is forever changed in my mind- and my mother's heart cherishes that. When I fear, when I worry over my kids, when the anxiety about catastrophe hits too close to home... I will sing this child's song... I will pray this mother's prayer-
Jesus loves me this I know. For the Bible tells me so.
My little ones to Him belong, when they and I are weak, He is always strong!
Those of you with small children know that getting a chance to wash their blankies/bears/taggies/etc is the mom equivalent to a bank heist in the vein of Ocean's Eleven. It takes time, planning, patience, and not a small amount of cunning, and sometimes outright lying ("I don't know where your blankie is honey....!"), and/or manipulation. At times sheer willpower, bribing, threatening, and the occasional middle-of-the-night-grand-theft is required.
It's not pretty and it's not easy.
For some strange reason my boys are thumb-suckers (which I'm sure is not genetic at all, I mean it's not like their mom sucked her's until 4th grade!). And not only that, they both have the blankie that is a requisite item to fully embrace the entire thumb-sucking-self-soothing experience.
Our 3-year old boy, Jonah, has been likened more than once to Linus in Charlie Brown. The kid carries his rag-tag blanket everywhere. What once was a super cute pattern of lime green polka dots on a bright white background, has now become olive colored splotches against a variegated backdrop of varying tones of browns, tans, some reds, yellows, and oranges. A good portion of the trim has come off and even 'clean', it still looks dingy. (Remind me to NEVER buy anything white for my boys again...)
But man! that child loves his blankie, and getting it from him to do the regular laundry is nothing short of a parenting miracle. He will go hours without it but as soon as he notices me putting it in the clothes basket, he immediately determines that it is the most precious possession he owns and will not part with it for the world. No amount of begging, pleading, logical interceding, or threatening will change his mind.
Let's face it, my kid already has an addiction... to his blanket.
What Jonah doesn't realize, and doesn't care about, is how nasty and gross his blanket tends to get. It is drug through all manner of ickiness outside- through leaves, dirt, mud, and (I'm almost sure) dog poop; not to mention the inside hazards- his baby sister's spit up, meal times, superhero fights, and toy room emergencies. We've been potty-training him... so I'll let you imagine those scenes. Grocery store floors, Chuck-E-Cheese equipment, parks, camp sites- you name it, that poor piece of fabric has seen it all. Add in that boys are just dirty and smelly in general and you've got a full-blown Hazmat scene on your hands at times.
Laundering this precious possession is an absolute must.
But washing (i.e. blanketnapping) is not exactly as easy as it sounds. Jonah just doesn't understand the neccesary 'evil' of cleaning his blankie.
Good thing I do. Even if it takes a heist worthy of The Night Fox!
I know that keeping the fabric clean can help him stay healthy and happy. I know that the soap will wash away all the filth and keep it smelling clean and fresh. I know better than him that the short time it takes to wash it thoroughly will, in the end, potentially keep him from getting sick, or at the very least keep him from rubbing unspeakable nastiness all over himself. I know better.
He may not see, smell, or appreciate the filth that he wallows in on a regular basis. He seems to be totally immune to it. I know better, so I will do what I have to keep him safe. Yes, I force my kid to let me wash his blanket. I refuse to let him surround himself with such ickiness all the time.
I imagine for us all, there is some security blanket we hold close. Perhaps too close? Every worldly blanket that we hold near and dear has the high potential to get filthy with human ickiness. In fact, I would argue that any blanket that we're holding which is human-wrought will always be filthy- no matter what we do to clean it up and make it look new and smell fresh. Too many of us wallow in the assumed safety of such things, without realizing (like Jonah) how disgusting and unhealthy it really can be for us.
What is your security blanket?
What does it look like? How dependent on it are you?
How filthy is it?
When was the last time you let your Father wash it?
How hard are you fighting Him to launder it?
Today I encourage you dear ones to examine what if any, blankies you have that are needing a good wash. Give them to Abba to throw in the heavenly laundromat! Let Him get the Holy Spirit Tide and Jesus bleach and do some good old scrubbing with His Living Water! Unlike my son's blanket, I assure you, this particular load of laundry will not need another washing...
Better yet, scrap the earthly blankie altogether and try a God-one out for size. Because in the end, our only safety can come from God. Period. He is our ultimate security blanket.