Two Babies and a Wedding

It’s been quite awhile since I posted a blog. Thanks to those who have reached out to ask where I am.

I haven’t been anywhere. But lots of stuff has been happening in my life. I know some of you are understandably disinterested in the personal details, but for those who are….

Silas Christmas

Now three months old

In early October we welcomed our 12th little person. Silas Joshua’s entrance into the world was all too slow for Janelle, but the room full of family and friends who weathered his leisurely arrival fell in love immediately. I spent two weeks hanging out with my new grandson and seeking to spoil my Missy. Watching her embrace motherhood with such passion warmed my heart. It’s a powerful experience to watch your child have a child, especially for the first time. And seeing Eric enjoy being a first-time Dad reminded me of how much I miss my own daddy who left for heaven nearly 40 years ago.  (How can that be?) For some reason this fall was a sad time for me as I thought about how much Mom and Dad would have loved knowing and welcoming all their great-grandchildren.

The fall was filled with anticipation and preparations for my youngest son Jake’s December 28th marriage to Sarah. What a joy it was to watch them (umm…Sarah, that is) turn yard sale finds into lovely pieces for their apartment and to experience their growing excitement for sharing life together as husband and wife. As any of you who have watched a son marry can attest, the convergence of the joy of my sons’ upcoming wedding and the melancholic sweetness of his years as “my boy” coming to an official end resulted in a strange roller coaster of familiar but nuanced emotions. Jake is the sixth of seven of my kids to marry so I’m pretty accustomed to the ride. But him being my last son to marry during the same year I will turn 60 made me feel…old. More on that another time.

Caroline Christmas

Merry Christmas to Granma!

Three days before the wedding brought a surprise for our family. Our oldest daughter Jaime, who typically gives birth a week or so late, called me the morning of December 23rd, about ten days before her due date. “Mom, I think something must be happening.  Can you come over?” Gratefully Jaime and PJ live just minutes away. Her biggest concern was the wedding. How could she be a bridesmaid with a 72-hour-old baby??? When I arrived it was clear that Caroline Rae was going to be the best Christmas gift a Granma could ever receive. In just a couple of hours she whisked into a room full of eager observers (yes, my girls actually like giving birth in a crowd!) and by early afternoon everyone was off to enjoy their Christmas Eve plans. Benny and I left asking ourselves if we really did just watch number 13 enter the world with just enough time to get ready for our 26 People to show up the next morning for Christmas breakfast?

Sarah and Jake

Jake and his beautiful bride

Jake and Sarah’s wedding was a wonderful celebration of God’s faithfulness. Benny enjoyed the privilege of performing our 6th child’s wedding and PJ worked hard the night before to “hem” one of the layers of Jaime’s dress (with scotch tape) so it would keep his no-longer-nine-months-prengant wife from tripping down the aisle. As I stood in the back waiting to be seated by my handsome and beaming son I realized afresh how forever blessed I have been. The doctor who told my parents when I was a teen that I could never have children didn’t know God had other plans. And that day I witnessed my youngest biological child say “I Do” to the godly woman for whom I’ve prayed for over twenty years.

Me and my beautiful daughters (and Jaime has a three day old baby!)

Me and my girls…yes, that’s Jaime 2nd from the left with her husband-hemmed dress.

After the whirlwind of two babies and a wedding the reality of life with a daughter still in college, getting caught up on some needed items with my part time job working for my son, ongoing adjustments to having Benny’s mom living with us and the joy of helping two daughters with newborns has left little time for writing.

Plus, God has been moving around in my heart about things I will likely write about at some point. In the midst of all the wonderful new things that have been happening in my life there have also been challenges. Isn’t He kind to wisely and lovingly govern both the joys and sorrows we face? Puritan Thomas Watson wrote about pharmacists of the time who skillfully measured just the right amount of ingredients to cure a patients’ specific need. And mixed in with the medicinal items was usually a bit of arsenic.

There’s a lesson there: sometimes poison can actually be added to life’s vicissitudes to heal what ails. And over these months I’ve seen that principle at work in my life. Through good times and hard; laughter and tears; joy and sorrow; bursts of faith and bouts with unbelief He has been near. My times of solitude with Him are among the most prized moments in recent months, even though they often happened through tears of joy one moment and sadness the next.

A few of you have asked how often I plan to post. I still don’t know. But there are some things stirring in my heart that I want to share. I think the time is right for some of them is soon.

I’m sure God has been busy in your life, too. What has He been up to? More on that in the next day or two.

Lunch with Mary

Josh and I walked into a local landscaping business this morning to see if we would be a good fit to provide their IT support. It was a typical sales meeting where we tag-teamed to learn about their business, assess their technology needs and see if it would be mutually beneficial to add them to our ProVisionIT family. (Josh started the business nearly seven years ago and it’s become a genuine family business that I help with, mostly from home.)

We sat down with Mary in their modest conference room. She was pleasant, efficient and friendly. It quickly became apparent that our company was well beyond their IT budget, but I watched my son do what he has taught me to do in sales: put the customers needs above company time.

He patiently answered her questions, showed her some cool stuff on his iPad that she could do on her own, and provided her with some professional advice that guys make good consulting money sharing.

As our 30-minute meeting moved toward an hour, I inadvertently called him “Son.” The moment had come. In each sales meeting we attend together it happens. He calls me Mom, I call him Son or someone notices we have the same last name and inquires about our relationship.

In most every case there are smiles, especially when Josh says, “When I was younger I used to resent that she was so involved in my life…now I pay her to be.”

Mary was surprised. She then mentioned her own 20-year-old son and I briefly shared that I was not supposed to have children. “In His mercy, God not only gave me Josh but also his six siblings. Josh and I went through some challenges when he was a teen but now we not only work together, but enjoy it.”

“That’s wonderful,” she responded.  Chuckling, she added, “Josh, maybe you can talk to my son at some point!” Then something special happened. She turned her eyes to me and said, “Would you want to do lunch sometime?”

It’s happened just a few times in my three years of helping Josh with his business. The Holy Spirit makes His presence tangible. One time it was when a client responded to my comments about my infertility by mentioning she had been trying for years to conceive; Josh and I ended up praying with her for a miracle. Another time a potential client’s eyes brimmed with tears when she saw the warmth between my son and me. I later found out she and her young adult daughter were going through some relationally tough times.

I’m about to email Mary to set up lunch. I don’t know that God has in mind. Is she a believer or not? Is her relationship with her son rocky and strained? Is she simply lonely and wanting to spend time with another mom of an adult son? Does she want to further explore us doing business together?

As we walked to our cars Josh said, “That meeting was more about the gospel than it was about business.”

This isn’t Josh and me but a few years ago those faces could have easily been ours. Smile.

Who wouldn’t want to have a boss with that perspective? You see, Josh and I did go through tough times when we both struggled with bitterness toward one another. I remember taking him to a basketball practice shortly before he turned 16. His silence was once again deafening and I ended up tearfully asking, “Son, I know you love me; you kinda have to…but do you like me?  Or do I just get on your nerves too much?” His answer was a telling, “Of course I love you, Mom.” The years following continued to be tough. We both irritated and frustrated each other and I continued to long for my son to like me.

Yesterday we once again experienced the fruit of God’s work in our relationship. We still irritate each other and sometimes have to talk through selfish interactions with one another. But Josh was right: the gospel was on display in our meeting yesterday. Our mutual respect for each other, affectionate interactions and the joy we find in working together isn’t because of who we are or how hard we’ve worked to change. It’s because our need for a Savior didn’t stop when we become believers; He has been busy growing, changing, convicting and empowering this mother and her son for many years.

So, Josh, I know now more than ever how much you love me. You show it in more ways than I can count. You saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself and gave me the chance to both help grow your company and serve your dad by bringing some appreciated funds into our budget. You’ve entrusted your customers to me and given me the opportunity to get into the community to meet the Michele’s out there that I would not have otherwise met.

And maybe you’ve even come to like me.

I can’t wait to have lunch with Mary. Maybe I’ll get to demonstrate the gospel to her in some small way again. Perhaps I’ll get to tell her the difference that having a relationship with Jesus Christ has meant to me and that the offer of that relationship is hers as well.

All because of God’s work in a mother and her firstborn son.