Thursday, May 24, 2012

Friday Friends: Rob

This is my brother. Yes, ladies, he is available. Since that's generally the first question I am asked I figured we'll just get that one out of the way. And no, you cannot start swooning over how hot & hunky he is. I'm his sister. That's just gross. Also, you should know that his hair is a lot more gray than this picture shows. Not that it will make a difference to you...

Where our friendship began:
I was 15 months old; he was a newborn who never stopped crying. I tried to help by force feeding him baby asprin. I made it through most of the bottle before our mom walked in and put an end to my early career in medicine.

What we survived:
Numerous--and I mean, numerous--episodes of conning Rob into eating various forms of mud "edibles." It just never got old. "I don't wanna eat that chocolate pudding! It's mud again, just like the last time" "Oh Bobby, it is not. I already pulled that joke on you--why would I think you'd be stupid enough to fall for it again? Trust me--this time it's just plain chocolate pudding." "Okay, fine...MOM!!!!! Wendy made me eat mud again!!!!"
It should be noted, however, that the eating poop thing was all him. I had nothing to do with that.

--setting the irrigation sprinklers on our sisters when they slept out in the fields
--making chocolate covered insects to bring to church youth activities
--digging forts in the front yard
--writing elaborate and detailed notes back and forth during General Conference, summarizing which teens in our circle had crushes on each other. I recently found a stack of those notes...ah, good times, good times.

Why I like this guy:
--he's a great dad (PS--aren't his kids beautiful? They take after their mother, obviously).
--he has a brilliant mind and a wicked sense of humor
--he's a great brother. He's there for me.
--he holds himself to a high standard, yet has the utmost tolerance and acceptance of others.

What I've learned from him:
To be nice. Maybe it's a side effect from being picked on so much when he was younger, but Rob has a very compassionate heart. He doesn't judge others. When he knows someone is in trouble, he just jumps in and helps. When someone needs something, he gives it to them. I've never, ever seen him pass a homeless person by without stopping to chat & pull out his wallet. In the process, he manages somehow to invest the act of charity with dignity and respect that probably means far more to the person than the few dollars he gave away. When I once complained about not trusting that money I gave to charity would be used appropriately, Rob quietly disagreed. "I just give the money," he said. "It's on their heads if they waste it or misuse it. My responsibility is to share what I've been blessed with. So I do."

In that respect, Rob has changed me. Now I write out my donation checks and seal the envelope with a grateful heart for everything I've been given. When I see someone holding a cardboard sign by the side of the road, I try to stop & share whatever I can. Even more, I look them in the eyes. I tell them my name. I try to see the person behind the unwashed clothes and weather-beaten skin. I try to treat them the way Rob would.

I'm the older one, and I'll probably never let him forget it. But when it comes to matters of the heart, there's no question which of us is the bigger one.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Rocking Grace

Some background:

Gracie was born dancing. At two weeks old she scooted from one corner of her crib to the other. At four months she entertained herself--and her teachers--at daycare by spending hours bouncing up and down in her exersaucer. In short, the girl was born to move.

Today my little girl turned nine, and she is beautiful. She's such a tweeny-bopper, coordinating her clothes and practicing cheers and beating all the boys in foot races.

A couple of weeks ago she accompanied me on a shopping trip where she discovered a row of wooden rocking chairs. Miss Always-In-Motion parked her butt on one and instantly settled down into pure bliss. As I did my shopping she kept returning to the rocking chairs. When I finally coaxed her away after I'd checked out and paid, she sighed. "Ah, if I had one of those at home, I'd never be mad again. If I got upset I'd just go in my room and rock."

Last weekend Grace was with her dad. As I ran my errands and did my child-free stuff I couldn't shake the feeling that I should get Grace a rocking chair for her birthday. For the record, I was already done with her birthday shopping. For the record, I'm a birthday minimalist. For the record, rocking chairs are bigger and more expensive than I do for birthdays.

Also for the record--when I have those feelings, I've learned to listen. Plus, I love my kid.

When I brought the rocker home it looked a little lonely sitting there by itself. The thought popped into my head that I should also give Grace my special teddy bear. It's a plain brown bear that I inherited at Christmas time when we spent the holidays with my family and my mom decided that everyone--including me--should have teddy bears. For some reason Grace prefers my teddy bear, and when she is most stressed or upset she'll ask if she can snuggle my bear. So the bear sat on the rocking chair and waited for Grace as well.

That's when it finally sort of clicked in my mind. This more-than-I-would-usually-do-for-a-birthday was exactly what I wanted my daughter to know of God's love. It's how God parents me. He gives me ongoing reminders of just how much He loves me, even when He doesn't have to, even when there isn't a reason, even when it's over the top and far more than I deserve. Grace's life would have been perfectly fine and happy without the rocking chair or the teddy, but I gave them to her because I love her and I want her to be not only happy, but gloriously, profoundly happy.

Even more than I wanted her to have the exciting moment of walking in her room to discover that she had exactly what she wanted, I want her to know the depth of God's love for her.

When she came home there was a card on the teddy bear's lap that read:

Dear Grace, 
I love you so much. I wanted you to have a rocking chair to rock on when you are upset, and I wanted to you to have my teddy bear to hold when you are scared. I want things that make you happy because I love you SOOOOOO much! Heavenly Father loves you even more than I do. I hope you'll always remember that He wants good and happy things for you, even more than I do. I hope you'll know that He loves you, and that when you sit in the chair and you hold your teddy, you'll feel my love and you'll feel God's love for you. I love you, sweetie! 

Isn't it awesome that we get to share the parenting experience with Him?