Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Unexpected

Being a mother is full of the unexpected.  I remember holding that dear, sweet baby boy and envisioning what he would be like. 

Oh, he'd be an athlete, just like his daddy.  He'd love reading, just like his mommy.  Most importantly he'd love Jesus just like his daddy and mommy.  As I organized all of the adorable baby boy clothes I had gotten at showers, I anticipated the day he would wear each of them.  The little, dressy church outfits were my favorite.   
Fast forward a couple of years and "Matt Cowman!  Stop it!  You are wearing that to church."

Matt, at this point, hated collared, button-down shirts.  He somehow managed on the short trip to church, to break the button on his blue oxford cloth shirt.  I was livid, as I rummaged through the church kitchen drawer looking for a needle and thread, when I discovered I couldn't even sew it back on...he literally broke the button.

Matt was never a typical first born.

In Mrs. Kniffen's fourth grade class, he spontaneously burst out in leading the class in "Who Let the Dogs Out?" "Woof, Woof, Woof, Woof!"

That was Matt.

When many chose limos to go to the prom, Matt rounded up a group of friends and their dates and they took the church bus.

That was Matt.

As Matt prepared to leave for college I sat down with paper.  What would I tell my son?  What advice would I give to the young man who had been nothing like I had expected?

I decided to make my letter up-front.  I numbered each piece of advice.  #1 I printed on the side of the paper.  What should be number 1, I thought to myself?  What might he need to remember above all else?  Chances were that he might not even read numbers 12 or 20.  So number 1 should be good. 

#1 - Don't let anybody ever put you into a mold.  God made you one-of-a-kind.  Be that!  Don't let a Christian school put you into a Christian mold.  God made you to be your own person, Matt Cowman. Stay true to that!

Last weekend I found myself at Vatterott with my one-of-a-kind son.  It was the day he had talked about for months and months.  Yes, it was dread-lock day. 

As I watched for three hours as knots, braids and wax mangled together into long strips, I thought back to my advice letter.

What was I thinking?

No, Matt Cowman, you've not been what I've expected.  Oh, so much more!


Sunday, April 24, 2011


Easter...ah a time for traditions.  A spring bouquet, going to mom's for a ham dinner after church, Easter baskets with chocolate bunnies and the infamous Easter outfit!  I remember Matt's first Easter when I was frantically hemming a  pair of little tan corduroys.  It, of course, had a matching cream colored sweater, with a Beaxtrix Potter bunny in the upper right corner.  Yes, I had planned for him to wear a darling pair of plaid shorts with suspenders and a matching solid light blue shirt, but it was freezing out that Easter morning. I had to quickly change plans. 

So there I was...stuck with either being a horrible mother and dressing my baby inappropriately, but very cutely, or changing Easter clothes at the last minute.  The corduroy outfit was a great Easter choice too,` but too bad those corduroys were longer than his little 9 month legs.

O.k so the clothes theme is a frazzling Easter tradition.  Let's move on to a more positive one.  When we moved to Ohio, on that Easter morning (Matt's 2nd, mind you)  at church, my sister, Ranae, greeted me with "He is risen." 

I smiled...not sure what else to do.  Yes, Jesus certainly was risen.  What a nice reminder, although the awkward silence that followed seemed a little, well...awkward.  Being a sister, she noticed immediately and said, "You're supposed to say, 'He is risen indeed.'  That's what the early church did."

"How cool,"  I said.  "He is risen indeed!"  From that point on, this became my Easter greeting to my family.  :)  In fact, Meredith just woke up a little bit ago.  I smiled and said, "He is risen!"  Meredith smiled back and said, "He is risen indeed!"

Traditions really are a pretty neat thing.  Just the other day I heard of a new one.  When Jewish people were being served and had to leave the table, a wadded up napkin meant, I'm done.  Go ahead and clear my place.  A folded up napkin meant just the opposite, I'm not finished.  I'll be back soon."

As my friend shared this story, I continued waiting for 'the rest of the story.'  Clearly it was lacking the punch line, the reason for  telling the story in the first place.  Then, my friend's wife, noticing my continued anticipation said, "Bob, tell her the rest."

She, obviously decided herself, that his pause was too long and she continued.  Think back to the tomb, when the women rushed in after the angel had rolled the stone away.  Remember Jesus' clothes after he had risen?

Chills spread down my arms.

Tears filled my eyes.

Oh yes, they were folded! 

He is NOT finished!  He is coming back!

To this, sin-sick pilgrim, that is the best news ever!  "He is risen!"  "He is risen indeed."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


The other day I was hurrying to pick Madison up at soccer practice. I grabbed the keys out of my purse, slid my feet into my soccer slides and headed to the door.


I looked down. My right foot had slid out. What? I bent over and picked up the shoe. The seam on the right had ripped. I glanced at my watch.

Yikes! 6:55!

I flicked off the good slide and zipped to the jeep in my socks.

On the whole way to the soccer field I kept thinkin' about my ripped slide. I loved my slides. I wore them all the take Hercules out for a potty break, to pick up children from dance, choir, soccer and friends, to take the trash to the dumpster, to run to the church and other quick runs.

How did they rip?

When I got back home with Madison, I was still thinking about it. While pulling my dirty socks off, I yelled. "Who ripped my slides?"

Seconds later Michaela appeared. "Mom..."

Michaela...of course! I thought, as she continued.

"I just slid into them when I was taking Hercules out and they ripped."

"Did you think about telling me?" I asked accusingly, my voice rising by the minute.

"M.o.o.o.m," she said with a look of 'get real.'  "Didn't you bring them with you when we moved from Ohio...ah, about s.i.x.x.x.x years ago?"

I gave her the raised eyebrow of Eunice, my mother, and said, "I wear those all the time! I love my slides!"

I looked back at her spicy gaze that had a tinge of sorrow mixed in, just a tinge, mind you.

Our eyes locked, I was beginning to hear the music right before the gun drawls in the old west shows.  You know, the kind that goes 'Woo -e  woo-e woo, woo e- ew.'

Then out of no where popped"...but I love you more."

Wow!  Where had that come from?  I wanted blood!  Yet somewhere...grace had sprung forth like the first tulip of spring, vibrant, fresh and unpredictable.

It felt good.

I had not over-reacted. Madison would be proud of me. Yes, the mother that gives her mini-squeals when she puts the wrong amount of mayo in the recipe or when she loses track of time or when she's running late for school.

No over-reacting from this mama...not this time, at least.

My thoughts were quickly interrupted by Michaela's voice.

I glanced up at her confident face with a bit of smirk..."Forgiveness, ya gotta love it!"