My sister may or may not have turned fifty this year. There was a rumor of this milestone on the horizon, but I think she squelched it, declaring herself perpetually 43.
Meanwhile, my mother claims to be sixty-five.
On our recent visit, Mom became a touch, ahem, irritated with dear old Dad and said, rather forcefully, "I'm sixty-five years old. I think I can decide that for myself."
Kath and I tried not to laugh -- oh, how we tried! -- but we just couldn't contain ourselves.
But, you know, if Mom's sixty-five, Kath's a mere forty, and I'm a youthful thirty-eight. And we're all good with that.
So for Kath's birthday (whatever the number), I framed a cross stitch I had made for her years ago. It reads: In my Father's house are many mansions. I want the one next to yours.
The year I originally cross stitched this and gave it to Kath, the house next door to hers was renovated and sold. The price tag? If memory serves, it went for a cool 1.3 million dollars. I told her that though the sentiment was sincere, I wouldn't be moving next door anytime soon.
This morning as I toted two little girls to pre-school, we listened to The Donut Man singing I'm going to prepare a place for you up in my Father's house. I'm going to build you a mansion, too, up in my Father's house.
I love The Donut Man, and I especially love this tune.
Years ago I experienced a season of deep consolation in prayer. For reasons I only partially understand, I had a grace on my prayer life, and all my struggles with consistency and distraction and dryness just seemed to be evaporate. I experienced the reality of God's presence in a way I had never understood before and haven't been able to be recapture since.
It was a grace, pure grace.
One day I was sitting on the backyard swing and began singing that line from The Donut Man: I'm going to prepare a place for you up in my Father's house.
For an unforgettable instant, I fully understood the reality of this. I was overwhelmed by God's love for me and me alone. Out of the vast sea of humanity spanning century after century, millennium after millennium, the God of the universe was preparing a place for me.
So personal. So true.
This morning I grabbed John's sweet brown cheeks and peered into those gorgeous brown eyes and told him that God could have given him to anyone on planet Earth, and he chose us. How amazing is that!
I was doting on John in part because, well, he's my John and so very, very sweet (except when he's not). And, in part, I was doting on John because I was on the brink of investiagting far away military academies willing to house his older brothers.
This time last year we dubbed two of my nieces Serbia and Croatia in light of their uncanny ability to foment dissension and unrest at a moment's notice. No issue was too trivial; no opportunity was overlooked.
Well, let me tell you, my oldest boys have absconded with the title. Move over, Lissi and Hannah; Serbia and Crotia have moved South.This morning's bout of internecine warfare left me overwrought, newly aware of how blessedly uncomplicated the little people are, and absolutely certain my boys will never, ever, ever express -- in cross stitch or any other medium -- a desire to live next door to one another.
I wonder if they'll exchange Christmas cards.
Since this less than blissful morning, I've spent time with my friend Annette, mother of fifteen, including eleven -- yes, eleven -- boys. Part of the picking and jabbing and needling is, she tells me, both normal and even a sign of affection. As odd, unfathomable, and even perverse as it all sounds, boys just do that.
A unique love language, you might call it. One wholly indecipherable to the average mother.
I'm accepting this premise on faith.
It's either that or cry (and I've already tried crying).
In the midst of all the strife, it is so good, so very, very good to dwell on the eternal, to ponder the truth that God has indeed prepared a place for me -- a place for me and a place for adorable five-year-olds, a place for aging parents and, yes, even a place for quarreling brothers.