Two days are reserved each year to celebrate the birth of our two amazing sons. The months encompassing their births are heady with joyful memories and a good dose of warm fuzzies.
Our first born son Derek has a birthday rapidly approaching next month, thus my mind has been reflecting on God’s faithfulness on that glorious day in March 1992.
Long before Derek was a twinkle in his daddy’s eye, I prayed that God would bless us with a child, and just like all mothers do, I also asked that our child would be healthy too. Included in those petitions was a plea that my delivery would be speedy and absolutely NO C-section. The diary of a wimpy woman right here folks! Though I longed to have a child I was a chicken with a capital C.
Lo and behold the day came when my in home pregnancy test confirmed I was expecting, my joy knew no bounds. Each month as my tummy swelled so did my earnest prayers. Not only was my appetite for food voraciously increasing so was my reading of pregnancy books. This over abundance of food not only tipped the scale but the excess knowledge of TMI caused an heavy weight of anticipation and anxiety as well.
When bright cheery daffodils rose from their wintery slumber trumpeting in Spring. *God’s knitting of our son within my womb was now complete. It was time to deliver the promise.
Portland Adventist hospital was bustling with mother’s to be in the maternity ward, apparently the stork was mighty busy ! Throughout it all I felt confident the Lord knew my plan that I carefully laid out for Him. Once settled in, Kevin stayed bedside as visitors and staff came and went; while I tried to smile between contractions. So far, so good, until my ears heard a frighting statement from the nurse after checking on my progress. Pulling the sheet down she said, “Oh honey, this baby is too big, I think your going to need a C-section. Crestfallen and gripped with fear my mind raced with the devastating news. She tried every trick in the book to comfort me, as did a dear friend moments later… bless their hearts. Nevertheless, I was completely panic stricken, I knew right then and there I needed my mama. Per my request, Kevin quickly stepped outside to go look for my mom and bring her to my room, so she could pray for me while we waited to hear the doctor’s assessment.
When I told my mama the news, she straightened up and confidently said, “We are not going to receive that.” Planting her feet firmly on the ground she boldly declared, “I’m going to stomp on that old devil.” Yes !! Preach it mama I thought quietly to myself, the 12 hrs of labor had me extremely tired and groggy. Mom continued to pray with conviction and determination. Monitors beeped and fear hung thick, as she reminded God of His promises quoting scripture and interceding on my behalf. Zealously closing her supplication with, “Lord stretch her like you stretched her dress”.
One minute cruising on the freeway of agreeing prayer my reasoning hit the brakes. What on earth is she talking about?… my weary mind confused unable to track her last statement. Quickly the Lord brought to mind the dress she referred to. It was a velvet Christmas dress I made one year earlier. After being cut out and shoulders stitched, it seemed from all appearances too small for me when I threw it over my head before sewing up the sides. Not needing my theme song to be, “It’s All About the Bass”. Believing that no amount of diet or exercise would get my bass to fit into that sewn up dress before my employer’s Christmas party, a mere one week away. Desperate, I went to the fabric store and bought a yard of velvet to make two side panels. Words cannot began to describe how unenthused I was with this last ditch idea… feeling “Side Panels” sound better for cars and homes than a velvet dress. With that looming thought in mind I decided to forgo the panels and stitch up the sides anyway, hoping, praying it would fit. What did I have to lose besides the unrealistic idea of shedding pounds rapidly.
To my complete surprise it fit and rather comfortably I might add. Now feeling like a princess in my homemade frock, I attended the delightful Annual Christian Supply’s Christmas Party; being hosted that year at the beautiful Resort at the Mountain.
About that dreaded C-section, God answered mom’s prayer to stretch me just like He did my Christmas dress, eliminating the need to perform surgery much to the nurse’s amazement. Oh, lest I forget… the one yard of fabric I choose not to use later became a little pair of velvet pants for Derek’s first Christmas. God’s perfect provision that was dearly needed for our already “Stretched Budget”.
Janet and I were neighbors and all around best buddies, our closeness evident by the telltale photo of the matching outfits we sported on our grade school field trip to OMSI. We completed our wardrobe down to the lucky rabbits foot dangling from our Levi belt loop’s. Really, how lucky could that poor rabbit have been? When I think of Janet my mind is flooded with happy memories and funny stories, they are like brilliant stars nestled in a night sky of gratefulness. A treasured childhood friend to share silliness and secrets, whether walking to school, playing together, or during sleepovers; experiencing laughter till our sides hurt brought on by our countless goofy ways we could amuse ourselves.
One of our favorite games was playing Montgomery Wards catalog, in our day (which sounds incredibly old ) you could pick up and return your orders to the Mall 205 Ward’s store. During that age they relied on employee customer service and good old fashion handwritten files to keep track of it all. What fun it was to play after school, setting up shop downstairs on my parents covered pool table. A toy pink phone for imaginary calls… check, a Ward’s catalog… check, files made up with fake names like Frank Frone… check, all the proper tools to ignite our wild imaginations. Why we never worked at Montgomery Ward’s when we got older I will never know. We had serious mad skills I tell you!
Some of our other memories were going door to door collecting money for the Christian Children’s Fund. One time, we chose to clean the handwritten graffiti from bathroom stalls during recess just for fun! Each school week was occasionally mingled with some mischief… at times less than angelic. Rounding out our Friday’s with our hit single we belted out our song, “We’re going home today, today, today!! ushering in our weekend. It makes me giggle at the very thought of it.
One moment we walked to grade school as children, next thing you know we were catching the bus to Junior High with the first stroke of blush applied to our cheeks. Time flew by but the memories linger remaining a steady source of joy. Recently, while at the check stand I was gazing at the outrageous tabloids that slander and exploit people without grace or kindness. I wondered how does one being attacked handle such lies, falsehoods and slander without being able to tell their side of the story? A two sided coin only baring one side oblivious to the other side’s details.
We have all struggled with hurtful and untrue stories told that slammed against the walls of our integrity. Casting suspicion on our foundation we hold so dear. Sometimes, I am guilty of setting my eyes on only one side being represented, believing that to be the whole truth without hearing the other side.
As I wrestle with my own personal pain from untruthfulness spun against me, it presses me into seeking endurance for the injustices. Causing me to mumble this question to myself as I unloaded my shopping cart ” How do they do it God? I gently heard the words “thick skin” rise up in my spirit, and the memories of how Janet and I had a pre-summer ritual.
Before summer arrived we would prepare our tender feet for the freedom of barefoot days by toughening them up. Our solution: A “foot boot camp” without boots. These tender feet that were previously cradled in warm socks and comfortable shoes, barely seeing the light of day, would be exposed not only to the sunlight but the dark hard asphalt and rough cement, going… “all natural”. Quickly acclimating our tender soles to lessen the nuisance of feeling every poke and jab of the harsh ground beneath. Thus, giving way to a foot loose and fancy free summer!
It made so much sense to me back then, and it so applicable to me now. My tender heart and thin skin feels every poke and jab of harshness and disapproval of others toward me, focusing my attention on my wounded soul. Instead, I want to use these opportunities to develop a thick skin of grace foregoing being callous to their deep woundedness. This allows me the freedom to enjoy the green pastures the Lord leads me to. His endless glory stretched out beneath my eager feet. His glowing canopy of approval and forgiveness gives me the strength to say, *1 “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” *2 “Being able to throw open our doors to God and discover at that same moment that He has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand–out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praises… with our Tender Hearts and Thick Skins.
1* Luke 23:34 NIV
2*Romans 5 1:2 The Message Bible