Be Held

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She’s crying in the darkness. Big, raspy, gasping, croupy cries. My husband and I run to the bathroom and turn on the light and the shower. As I hold her, she clings tight and the tears slow a little. The steam helps, but still her chest heaves loud in the night as she gulps in air.

It’s a long, sleepless night. In the wee hours of the morning, the croup seems to worsen, and we decide to pack her up and take her to the hospital. But just as we are about to leave, her breathing steadies a little. Are we safe? The minute she lays down, the rasping and gasping starts all over.

I gather her into my arms in the darkness and hold her—this five-year old girl who seems so tiny tonight. For some reason, only the holding helps. So I hold her close until her breathing evens into sleep. And then, even then, I hold her.

It is morning when I finally close my eyes.

I understand the need to be held. We all need it at times. In the seasons of darkness, of deep-down disappointment, of hurt. Those times when our soul is gasping for air.

But always, in the blackness, there are arms waiting. In the good times, too. Strong, powerful, everlasting arms. Beautiful, scarred hands.

And a still, small Voice that calls us close,

Be held.

As I hold my daughter and listen to her breathe in the stillness, I can feel it in those deep-down places.

I, too, am held.

And there is peace.

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To Those Who Serve Our Country….

Poppies in Field

“Why is there a traffic jam?” my four-year old asked from the backseat of the car. The highway was backed up a ways. At the front was a line of flashing red lights. And although we couldn’t see it from our vantage point, I knew that the police were accompanying a young soldier home.

I want to shelter my children. I want them to stay innocent as long as possible. So I didn’t tell my daughter that this soldier had lost his life and was coming home to be laid to rest. I didn’t tell her that there are senseless acts of violence happening all the time in the world and that they sometimes happen on our own soil. I didn’t tell her that there is evil in the world that can sometimes hit close to home and shake us to the core.

I didn’t tell her that the man lost his life while serving his country. Or that a mother and a father lost their son. Or that a sister lost her brother. Or that a child lost his father.

What I did tell her was that a soldier was coming to Hamilton. That he was a hero because soldiers are very special people who protect our country from bad things and bad people. That throngs of people came out to honour this soldier because he deserves to be honoured. That we should always honour our soldiers.

My daughter is only four years old. So I sheltered her.

You know, as much as most parents want to shelter their children, there are places where it isn’t possible. There are children in other parts of the world who are confronted with violence and death on a daily basis. There are children who see and experience unspeakable things. Every. Single. Day.

They have no choice.

It is because of those who serve our country that I am able to shelter my little girl. It is because of countless men and women that have sacrificed their lives that I have the freedom to raise my family in safety.

Tonight, as my four-year old and I watched the procession from afar, the tears fell. I have never been more grateful for our soldiers.

To everyone who has served our country, thank you.

The Letting Go

“My blanket’s not dirty!” she sobs. Her in-between intakes of breath are sharp.

I try to give her another little pink blanket. It looks almost like the love-worn one from Grandma, but she will have none of it.

“I want my blanket!” It’s her security, her comfort. And it’s gone. It’s in the laundry and she’s upset. She’s crying too hard to sleep. But always with the cleaning, there’s the letting go.

Yesterday, when we bathed the baby, she shed her diaper and her clothing and splashed giggles in the bathtub in just her rolls of skin. Letting go isn’t always painful.

But tonight, for this one, it hurts.

I think about the cleaning in my own life, the letting go. What hurt at first is freeing now. Over two long years, I’ve learned that my security lies not in things but in Him – in Jehovah Jireh, as He’s called in Genesis. Our provider.

Yes, it was a hard lesson, but it’s becoming cozy, this trust. Cozy and fresh like a baby’s newly-washed skin or a little girl’s blanket warm out of the dryer.

All is silent upstairs now. White-blond hair fans the pillow, and jagged breathing has softened and evened. She’s all sweetness. I tiptoe into her room and press a kiss onto her brow. She stirs and then falls fast asleep again, the pink blanket forgotten.

Always with the cleaning, there’s the letting go. Maybe it starts off hard. Maybe it hurts for a while. But with surrender comes peace.

Words to live by:
~ Romans 8:28