One Thousand Days Later

I don’t really know how it happened, since I have long loved Chris Tomlin. But somehow, I had never heard that song before.

Three years ago, there were two memorial services for Robb: one in Colorado, and one in Ohio, our home for so many years. The absence of Robb was felt far and wide. On the day we all came together to remember him, both venues were standing room only.

In the Ohio funeral, which took place in the very same chapel where we were married, I heard this song that I had somehow never heard.

Our God is greater.
Our God is stronger.
God, you are higher than any other.
Our God is Healer,
Awesome in power,
Our God, our God.

I sat in the front row, letting these words pour over me. Everyone around me, as far as I could hear, sang and worshipped the God who gives and takes away. That song has become pinnacle to me. Words, melody, lyrics, and truths that I cling to. It always takes me back to the front row of the Memorial Chapel, where I let my friends sing and believe when I could hardly do either.

Now, more than one thousand days later, I sit among the congregation of proud (and digitally equipped) parents listening to the children’s choir. My two sons are standing on the left as I face the stage. Tucker is in the third row, fiercely paying attention and singing his heart out. Tyler is standing in the third row, joyfully making up his own choreography, and sending messages to me through sketchy sign language and words written in the air.

(My favorite: he traced a heart in the air and pointed from his chest to me. I heart you, Mommy.)

And then, my children sang in a choir of voices loud and pure, unashamed and believing:

Our God is greater.
Our God is stronger.
God, you are higher than any other.
Our God is Healer,
Awesome in power,
Our God, our God.

And then my boys stomp their feet in rhythm with the song, because this, my friends, is our favorite part:

And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
And if our God is with us, than what could stand against?

Tears stream down my face as my children sing these words, these truths, that have held my pieces together. One thousand days later, my children lead me in worship.

Our God is greater and stronger. If he is for us, then nothing, nobody, can ever, ever stop us.

 

Pillow Talk

I love a cold house. Like, ridiculously so. My bedroom at night is downright cold. (You can blame a certain Robb Williford for this. I had no choice but to adapt my body temperature to his arctic preferences.)

But the furnace stopped working yesterday, and the temp in the house was dropping dangerously close to my age. I’m a tough girl, but this I can’t handle. So we loaded up and came to my parents’ house, which meant three things: 1) Tuck could watch Broncos with his favorite comrade, Grandma, 2) Favorite cereals for everyone, 3) Waking up to my dad’s coffee.

It also meant that Tuck and I would be bunkmates. I came to bed after he had fallen asleep, because I’m an adult like that. I nudged him to move over and make room for me. He looked at me with narrow, sleepy eyes and pillow creases across his cheek. “Um, no, Mommy. I’m going to sleep on this side. Sorry about that.”

I forgive you. And I’ll sleep on the far side.

“Mommy, can I have that fuzzy blanket you brought up?”

“No, because you get to sleep on that side.”

He rolled over to face me, now fully awake. He looked at the book in my hands, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, by Anna Quindlen. (Love. Her.)

“Mommy, what does that say across the top? Number One… New… York… Tim’s… Boat Stealer.”

“Close.  Actually, it says #1 New York Times Bestseller. The New York Times is a newspaper, and they keep track of the books people love most. That means this is a book that America loves.”

He traced the letters. I said, “That’s one of my dreams, Tuck. I would love for one of my books to say that on the cover.”

He held the book out to me, “Well, look! You already have a book that says that!”

“No, I mean I book that I write. I hope someday one of the books I have written will be a New York Times Bestseller.”

“Ohhhhh…” A look of recognition. Aha. So it’s not just about collecting NYTBS, although there is great merit in that.

He opened my book, naturally filled with doodles and notes, circles and scalloped underlines. He said, almost out of the side of his mouth like he was speaking a secret we keep together, “Mommy, I told my teacher about this. I told her that you write in books.”

“Oh, did you?”

“Yes. I told her I think you underline the very best sentences, and probably also any words you don’t know.” The second grade version of ‘interacting with the text.’

I smiled. “Yep. That’s pretty much how it goes, buddy. Do you ever write in books?”

My rule-follower looked at me wide-eyed. “No. I definitely do not.”

I situated my pillow under my head as he found my bookmark, a 3×5 card with one of my favorite quotes scripted in my handwriting. He asked me to read it to him.

“It says, ‘Life is a collection of a million, billion moments, tiny little moments and choices, like a handful of luminous, glowing pearls. It takes so much time and so much work, and those beads and moments are so small, and so much less fabulous and dramatic than the movies,’ and it’s written by Shauna Niequist, one of my favorite authors.”

He rolled onto his back and said, “A million moments.”

I think this is one of them.

Swept Off Her Feet

“Oh-ho-ho, Tucker!”

(Don’t think Santa.  Think of a woman being lifted off her feet, trying to catch her breath.  Said woman is our beloved second grade teacher.)

“New rule: don’t pick up your teacher.  There are a whole lot of things you can do, Tuck.  But that’s not one.”

(We are learning how to channel this strength that’s surpassing us all.)

Operation: Independence

I needed to get my hair cut, and it’s hard to tell which “I don’t want to” measured higher: I didn’t want to take them with me, and they didn’t want to come.

So we tried an experiment.

“Guys, you get to go on an adventure while I’m getting my hair cut. The grocery store is right next door, and I’m going to let you go inside and choose a treat. One for each of you.”

“Oh, mommy. This is the most best idea ever.”

“I think so too. What rules do you think I have?”

“No running.”
“No screaming.”
“Stay together.”
“No fighting.”

I’d say that just about covers it. I gave Tyler the money in an unexpected choice of responsibility. He raised his eyebrows and looked at me, “Are you kidding me?! No way. Give that responsibility to Tucker.”

We synchronized our watches and we parted ways. They launched into a task of teamwork, budgeting, and independence.

Twenty minutes later, they came to the hair salon with perfect change and a bag of donuts.

They even chose one for me. My favorite kind.

A win on every level.

(Especially since I choose not to think about little hands reaching into bakery showcases, with or without waxed tissue paper.)

“Oh, yeah. That so happened to me, too.”

Jack stopped by to show us the brand new red cast on his arm.  Evidence of a battle wound when he fell from the clubhouse in the backyard.  This reminded us of when Tucker broke his arm, a memory only I seem to hold with accuracy.

Here’s how I tell the story:

Tucker was 21 months old, and Tyler was six weeks old.  We put Tucker down for a nap on a Sunday afternoon, and he was angry to be inside his crib.  In his revolt against naptime, he jumped in a fit of fury. With his tummy against the rail, he became top-heavy and flipped himself out onto the floor.

Seconds later as he screamed, I found him lying on his back, and I’m still not sure how that happened.  Quite a flip, I guess.  Anyway, it was a clean break across his wrist.  He learned a clever way to get his cast off, by wedging it into the grocery cart and then sliding his arm out.  Five times.  In the end, an orthopedic specialist put him in a cast up to his shoulder, just so Houdini would keep it on.

And if it wasn’t already tricky enough to add a newborn to the toddler dynamics at our house, now I had a toddler with a red fiberglass club to contend with.

**

Here’s how Tucker tells that story:

“Oh, you have a broken arm?  Oh, that so happened to me too.  One time?  When I was a baby? My mommy put me to bed in a crib with no sides to it.  And I was so mad, and I double flipped over the side and half of my whole arm came off.”