Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Little Gabe is growing and kicking! Another week down, only 6-10 week left. Gabe's room is ready for him and his big brother is quite anxious for his arrival. I am enjoying my life with only one child, trying to relish the simplicity of it all. I can only imagine a grocery trip with 2 kids! Plus, I am beginning to remember those late night feedings, 2 hour breastfeeding cries, tons of diaper changes, reflux, etc! I can't wait! It will be very life altering - possible more altering than when we first became parents?
Gabe is already differing a little from Drew - Drew always had the hiccups and loved it when mommy would eat! Gabe has yet to get the hiccups and doesn't get too excited when I start eating. He does get riled up when he hears his brother talking frantically or running and goofing around. I can already tell these boys will be very different, but will love to play together!
Baby Development for Week 29
Your baby's head is in proportion with body now. He appears more like a newborn each and every day!
Fat continues to accumulate under the skin -- only now preparing for entering the *real world*.
Your baby's brain can control primitive breathing and body temperatures.
His eyes can move in their sockets. Soon he will be able to follow a blinking light.
Your baby is increasingly sensitive to changes in light, sound, taste, and smell! Various studies show that your baby may indicate preferences (or disdain) for particular tastes or odors at this stage
He is also moving from side to side, but probably still is head up. In the next few weeks, he will move to the head down birthing position. At times you may feel as if he is performing somersaults for a circus act!
Her length is now approximately 15.2 inches (38.6cm) and weight is 2.54 pounds (1153gm)
Monday, September 24, 2007
I also adore traditions! Our autumn traditions include: the reading of the Pilgrims story throughout the month of November, decorating the house with autumn colors, fall cleaning and organizing, easy crock pot meals, the getting rid of the unnecessary and bringing out of well loved fall paraphernalia. I adore family times; sitting and drinking hot tea by the fireplace, or relaxing on the front walk at night when the cool evening requires blankets to snuggle against, chilly walks surrounded by a halo of gold leaves. Other Williams traditions include adding to our yearly Thanksgiving scrapbook, watching the miraculous Pilgrim’s movie on Thanksgiving mornings, marveling at all the Lord has done that year and reading about past years blessings, inviting new and old to join our Thanksgiving table, Fernando Ortega music permeating the evening hours, lighthearted musings around a full table and a special time of thanksgiving to our Lord Jesus!
Last week I mentioned that, according to A.W Tozer, the most important questions you will ever answer is “what is your view of God.” A. W. Tozer goes on to say that “Until you know God as he is, you’ll never become all that he’s created you to be.” The preeminent way to answer that question is to 1. Get into God’s word, and 2. Start looking at God through a lens of thankfulness. A few years ago I began the journey to discover who this God I serve really was - - not who I internally believed he was. My journey started with a book called God as He Longs For You To See Him by Chip Ingram. This book challenged my thinking and perceptions of God. It also revealed to me God’s daily reminders of His love for me. To my amazement, slowly over the years my pessimistic, glass half empty attitude, has been changing into a lifestyle filled with joy! About 3 months ago I started listing all of the things I noticed were gifts from God – I call it my 1000 Gifts List. So far I have reached 175 and my list is climbing daily – my plan is to make this list a daily habit that far exceeds 1000! This list helps keep my daily focus on the blessings sent from my Father, instead of the negative, fleshly spirit that would love to rob me of my joy. I am constantly remind myself that the only thing I can control when life gets hard is… my attitude, and that makes every difference in how I view God.
Dialog with your Mentor this week about who you think God is and what He is like. Talk about how you developed those views and if they are rooted and grounded in the scriptures.
"Thankfulness is a secret passageway into a room you can’t find any other way.
It is the wardrobe into Narnia.
It allows us to discover the rest of God—those dimensions of God’s world, God’s presence, God’s character that are hidden, always, from the thankless.
Ingratitude is an eye disease every bit as much as a heart disease.
It sees only flaws, scars, scarcity.”
I smiled in disbelief at the life before me! "Isn't it great" I thought "to be needed by so many!"
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Drew had such a fun weekend, he played with friends, went grocery shopping with mommy, and helped Daddy build a shed for the neighbor. On Saturday we visited the new Hobby Lobby that opened near our house. Drew saw a model train set there that he fell madly in love with. I explained that we weren't buying the train, but he could ask Daddy later and maybe he would build it with him. That evenings, Drew remembered! He asked Daddy if he could build the train set and kept saying "Daddy buy it!" I am sure this train set is meant for kids around the age of 12 not 2 1/2. Anyhow Daddy told him that he would buy the train when he went poopo on the potty for a whole week. Maybe that will be enough incentive to start potty training!
Saturday, September 22, 2007
I did get a eppy pen and a steroid spray for my injection sites. I have been having a large welt develop where my injection is given each week. I only have 5 more injections left and can't wait to be done with them. I am tired of the hormonal changes and being tired for 3 days after the shot. The spray seems to be working well and I will be using 4 injection sites instead of the two. Hopefully that will reduce the itching and burning in my hip/butt. I have also been taking benedryl at night to try and stop the irritation.
Gabe's heartbeat was strong and Drew had fun listening to his brother. He kept saying that the baby was sleeping!
We took a baby dinner to a friend who had a 6 pound little boy on Monday. He was so little and looked and felt just like Drew when he was born. So sweet! Drew loved petting his hair and pointing out his eyes and nose and mouth and fingers! Drew can't wait for his little brother to arrive!
152. a tiny mouth munching on Fuji apples
153. Drew's leaving his classroom and said "bye ms. Lilo (shilo)"
154. Good Will Bargains on Saturday mornings
155. Watching Drew intently reading his "Home Depot Book Of Tools"
156. John volunteering to help a neighbor in building his shed
157. Drew's big boy bed
159. Nice clean tile floors with white grout!
160. Bargain and coupon shopping that drops the grocery bill in half!
161. Dinner Menu list so I always know what to make for dinner
162. Anticipation of a great friends visit
163. 2 negative FFN tests
164. Being confident to take Drew to my Dr. Appointments, watching him sit quietly in the chair reading "Green Eggs and Ham."
165. The smiles Drew brought to the Dr. waiting room when he proudly announces " Mommy there are two nemo's in there!" The doctors waiting room has a huge fish tank!
166. Daddy coming home from work!
167. Falling asleep realizing that John's neck pain was gone for that day!
168. Sweet kisses and hugs from my little boy
169. Energy to complete today's tasks
170. The wonders of bleach and the clean smell it brings to our home
171. Getting out the fall decorations!
172. Sunday awakens to Autumn - my favorite season of all!
173. A cool(er) evening with the windows open
174. Funny katydid laying on the back patio that "squawks" at me when I go to roll it over. I jumped halfway across the patio and almost dropped the phone - it brought a great laugh
175. Drew's frogs/toads Kermit and Sally that live in between my Strawberry's and heather - they are always there to great us in the evenings when we water.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Drew has been talking a lot more, he has also been able to name all of his colors and count to 5. Drew's favorite activity is playing with friends, he is the social butterfly on the block - always saying hi to all the neighbors as they come home from work, especially our body builder neighbor Roy. Drew loves to say hi to Roy!
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
I will also be involved in a book club put on by a friend from our old church in Euless. We are reading "The Mission of Motherhood" by Sally Clarkson. I am so excited to start!
We have hit the home stretch! Week 28 marks the beginning of the Third Trimester! Little Gabe is growing fast and kicking mommy a lot. He has moved into my ribs so breathing is starting to be more difficult - especially when walking up the stairs! I have had a ton of energy the past three weeks, I hope it never goes away! I am getting tons of things done around the house and enjoying taking Drew and Kitty out on walks again. I weighed myself again today and to my surprise all that energy has left me at the same weight I was two weeks ago - so far I have gained a total of 25 pounds which is average. I don't suppose I will maintain my goal of only gaining 30 pounds total!
Little Gabe is slowing down a bit which means he is probably around 2 1/2 pounds. Drew did the same around this time. Only 7-11 more weeks to go. Up until now I wasn't too anxious about him coming - I was enjoying Drew and getting tons of things done. Now that almost everything is ready, I am finally ready to meet our precious little boy! It helps that a few of my friends and fellow bloggers have had their children in the last week or two!
Baby Developmen for Week 28
Eyebrows and eyelashes are now very noticeable!
Hair on baby's head is growing longer. Some babies are born with almost none at all, while others appear to be ready for their first haircut!
Eyes are completely formed now. Quite a view from inside!
Your baby's body is getting plump and rounded. Most of that increase is muscle tissue and bone. Fat will be added during the third trimester.
Muscle tone is improving. Preparation for the Olympics feels like it is taking place in your womb!
Lungs are capable of breathing now (but baby would still struggle and require medical attention if born now)
Talk to your baby often, reading stories, singing songs and more. He or she can recognize your voice now and will often calm to it later on!
Your baby weighs in now at 2.2 pounds (1005gm) and is 14.8 inches (37.6cm).
Monday, September 17, 2007
As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right.
By Nicole Johnson
It started to happen gradually …
One day I was walking my son Jake to school. I was holding his hand and we were about to cross the street when the crossing guard said to him, "Who is that with you, young fella?"
"Nobody," he shrugged.
Nobody? The crossing guard and I laughed. My son is only 5, but as we crossed the street I thought, "Oh my goodness, nobody?"
I would walk into a room and no one would notice. I would say something to my family - like "Turn the TV down, please" - and nothing would happen. Nobody would get up, or even make a move for the remote. I would stand there for a minute, and then I would say again, a little louder, "Would someone turn the TV down?" Nothing.
Just the other night my husband and I were out at a party. We'd been there for about three hours and I was ready to leave. I noticed he was talking to a friend from work. So I walked over, and when there was a break in the conversation, I whispered, "I'm ready to go when you are." He just kept right on talking.
That's when I started to put all the pieces together. I don't think he can see me. I don't think anyone can see me.
It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?" Obviously not. No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.
Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?
Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, "What time is it?" I'm a satellite guide to answer, "What number is the Disney Channel?" I'm a car to order, "Right around 5:30, please."
I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.
She's going … she's going … she's gone!
One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I brought you this."
It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: "To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees."
In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:
No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.
These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.
They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.
The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.
A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it."
And the workman replied, "Because God sees."
I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become."
At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.
I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.
When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table." That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, "You're gonna love it there."
As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.
This excerpt from Nicole Johnson's novel The Invisible Woman (W Publishing Group, 2005) is reprinted with permission. For more information, check out the author's Web site at http://www.freshbrewedlife.com/.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Tonight was just like most nights, we had our bath, read books, and then I left Drew to look at books for about 30 minutes. Only, tonight when I went to kiss him goodnight and say his prayers he was fast asleep. The funny part is that he logically decided to go to sleep because he neatly stacked all his reading books back in his nightstand where they go. He is definitely a type A - he also insists on hanging up all our keys on the hooks, he always turns out the lights, and hates having doors open. Just look at the two pictures - one was taken at nap time a few days ago and the other was from tonight! Too funny!
Drew has been chatting a ton this week. He has also been engrossed in reading books. At night he would listen to us read for hours. He is doing great in his big boy bed - he won't get out without one of us coming in and telling him he can. This week we played at the park, went on some walks around the neighborhood, kept to our cooking schedule, gardened, and cleaned up the house. Drew had school on Monday and Wednesday- he loved it, especially taking his special backpack on wheels! Drew loves to play quietly in his room each day - about 30 minutes. On Friday I spied on him and watched him play his little book piano, read to himself making animal noises, flying around his cars and planes, and banging on his drum. Too cute! He also loves to sing aloud. Drew's favorite word is "sure" and his favorite phrase is "daddy (or mommy or Nana) fix it." Today we were reading Green Eggs and Ham and it came to the part where the train falls into the ocean. Drew immediately said "Drew saw ocean, he cried!" Yes, he will forever remember the Pacific Coast by the fact that he cried the whole time.
Oh, Daddy will be so proud of this one. Nana was reading through magazines with Drew yesterday and came to a Home Depot Add - Drew saw the orange logo and said "Nana, Home Depot" I think he also said something about Daddy working there.
Daddy's white car broke down a few days ago and today John towed it to the shop. Drew watched all this and then started balling because he didn't understand that the car was going to get fixed and then would be back. He kept crying "No, Daddy fix it, where did Daddy's white car go." I kept telling him that the car was broken and needed to go get fixed, then it would be back. He didn't understand why Daddy couldn't fix it here. He thought the car wasn't coming back.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Also, my FFN test came back negative. So, this pregnancy is a huge miracle! With Drew I was in the hospital by this point, after 3 weeks of bed rest at home, and I was 2 cm dilated.
God is so good!
Drew and I went to the pond with Kitty this evening. I was able to conserve some energy today and made it all the way there and back with only 5 contractions. Kitty had fun swimming in the pond and running all around. Drew enjoyed playing on the rocks and finding sticks to play with. I was also able to take a few good pictures of the little guy. Then I left my camera laying on the ground where we were playing. I remembered about an hour later and had to borrow a neighbors car to go back and get it. I tell you I loose everything these days! Praise though! Drew found my keys today, they had somehow ended up in the toybox. I lost them two weeks ago and knew they were somewhere in the house! I really hoped I hadn't thrown them in the garbage by accident. Now if I could only find my IPOD!
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Response to sound grows more consistent toward the end of the seventh month, when the network of nerves to the ear is complete. Your baby's hearing continues to develop, he or she may start to recognize your voice as well as your partner's.
Lungs continue to grow and prepare for functioning outside of the womb. Each day in the womb greatly increases survival rates!
He also continues to take small breaths and although he's only breathing in water and not air, it's still good practice for when he's born.
Eyelids are now open more. Your baby can distinguish between light and dark.
Retinas have formed.
Your baby will grow over 1 inch this week alone! You may suspect this phenominal growth rate repeats in the preteen years!
Average size is now 14.4 inches (36.6cm) and 1.9 pound (875gm).
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Give 5 hours a week to fast for those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
Give 5 dollars a month to the Five for 50 Fund and support worthy causes.
Give 5 days a year to travel overseas and help alleviate poverty and suffering.
Give 5 people an opportunity to join you on your journey. More details are given in the book. But this is a way everyone can participate and be part of the solution to a world-crisis. All proceeds will go directly to HIV/AIDS projects around the world. The children are worth it!
Your donations go to Children's HopeChest, the nonprofit organization that operates the Five for 50 campaign. Five for 50 selects the most urgent and strategic programs to invest in and will report back to donors on the combined impact of the campaign. Some of those outreaches could include: feeding programs, educational initiatives, health care, community development, and spiritual discipleship. Children's HopeChest is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability and is a four-star rated charity by Charity Navigator.
The bad news is that I failed my glucose test so I have to go back and take a three hour test on Tuesday. I really hope it comes back negative! My friend who is a L&D nurse says that about 75-80% of people who fail their first test pass their second - so I am hoping I'm not in the 20-25%. Overall we are so excited to be free for another two weeks! I am feeling great, enjoying getting everything organized, and cleaning like mad, oh and reading a ton of books. I did manage to put together our weekly meal plan for this upcoming week, then I looked through ads and coupons and made a grocery list, then John went to Alberton's and I went to Kroger in search of our deals. John was the envy of all the women in Alberton's because he was pushing Drew around in a coupe cart, looking over his list, and carrying around the adds. His great deals landed him a 47.00 bill a savings of 50%! The cashier was very impressed and couldn't believe all that he took home. Now our fridge is full of meals that should last us the next 7 days. We even stocked up on some freezable items that were on sale!
My sweet friend Nicole and my mom are hosting a baby shower on September 29th! I am so excited to see everyone and catch up on all their happenings. A few of the ladies are pregnant so it will be great to see how they are coming along.
John spent the day working with his group for the home makeover next month. Our family was chosen by an essay the 5 year son wrote, his mother was just diagnosed with cancer and his father is a truck driver, both are not covered by insurance. They have an autistic 18 year old son and a daughter who is 13. They seem like such a sweet family. John is thrilled to recruit some of his friends to help out! It is a huge job, but well worth all their effort. God has been so good to provide donations and man power to accomplish this great feat.
Drew spent today playing in the dirt at Nana's with the neighbor boys and then came home and played with his friends Riley and Reese. He was beaming all day from all the play time with friends.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
I am so relieved! Two more weeks of freedom! I just have to get to 33 weeks and then it won't be so critical. Once 33 weeks hits I can't be hospitalized and the baby should be big enough to hold on a few weeks. I am praying we safely make it to 36 weeks, 37 would be perfect and 40 would be torture! I've never understood how anyone can carry to 40 week.
Pray for me Sunday - I am talking to a group of ladies at our mentoring kickoff about why mentoring is so important and then a testimony about the effects mentoring has had on my life. Also pray for John, he starts back to work part time at HD this Sunday afternoon. His arm in still tingling but his neck pain is almost going!
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
To support the fetus's growing body, the spine is getting stronger and more supple. Though no longer than the span of the average adult hand, it is now made up of 150 joints, 33 rings, and some 1,000 ligaments.
Air sacs in the lungs form now.
Lungs begin to secrete a greasy substance called surfactant. Without surfactant the fetal lungs would stick together and couldn't expand after the baby is born.
Although they've been sealed shut for the last few months, your baby's eyes are opening and beginning to blink this week. Depending on ethnicity, some babies will be born with blue or gray-blue eyes (which may change color in the first 6 months of life) and some will be born with brown or dark eyes.
Retinas begin to form.
Brain wave activity for hearing and sight begins to be detectable.
Fetal brain scans show response to touch. If you shine a light on your abdomen, your baby will turn his head, which according to researchers, means his optic nerve is working
"Drew, please take the cereal off your toe, it belongs in your mouth."
In response to Drew wanting his bear to have a glass of coffee (vanilla milk).
"Oh Drew, bear doesn't want coffee, bears are allergic to coffee."
"Don't dip your roll in your milk." Drew replies "can I dip my broccoli?"
Drew is so excited for school to start tomorrow. He met his teachers Mrs. Shiloh and Mrs. Amy today, his favorite part was playing with all the toys. We also saw his teacher from last year and Drew couldn't figure out why we weren't going to her class. He was a little shy meeting his teachers today, but is very excited to go! Tonight we got his backpack ready and then Drew insisted on wearing his Preschool T-shirt from last year to bed. After placing Puppy, Bunny, his plane, and a few other toys in his backpack he informed me that he was leaving. I said "where are you going." to which he replied "to see my teacher." Drew didn't quite get that school was tomorrow, not tonight.
I love the structure for his class, they have music, Spanish, PE, and have breaks for potty time. None of the kids in Drew's 2 year old class are potty trained, but they do work on it at school and get an M&M if they go in the potty. I hope Drew catches on! This year Drew will be attending Preschool 2 days a week - Monday and Wednesday. He can't wait to get messy with art projects and glue! I was thrilled to see that he had Mrs. Shiloh this year, we met her last year every morning as she stood outside her class and greeted each student by name! She has tons of energy which is a great asset when dealing with eight 2 year olds!
Drew is turning into such a character, he says and does the funniest things! Like today, he insisted on having his bear eat lunch with him at the little table. He even put his bib on the bear, fed him teddy grahams, and got out a bowl and placed 1/4 of his 'lillybutter" (peanut butter and jelly) sandwich in the bowl. He then engaged the bear in deep discussions and insisted that the bear wanted his own glass of coffee!
Drew is sleeping so much better, he now loves his big boy bed! He doesn't get out or turn on t he light. Lately, he reads books for about 30 minutes before I turn out the light, they it takes about 20 minutes for Drew to fall asleep. Nap time is much the same, most afternoons he has a 1-1.5 hour quiet time in his room where he can read books or play quietly. About 3 days a week he ends up falling asleep. He pulled out his school nap mat a few days ago and I found him sacked out in his closet sleeping on the mat. It was so cute!
Drew is learning more each day, he still has no interest in learning his colors but has moved on to shapes. He knows "star" "circle or "ircle" and "oval" or "woval". He knows the numbers 1-10 but won't ever say them in order. When he counts he only does to 2 - one, two, one two. Lately Drew is into rocket ships and loves to "blastoff!" He can clap to the beat of a song and is known to hum parts of "flight of the bumble bee" and "William Tell's Overture" thanks to the Little Einsteins!
On to other members of the family Kitty is having fun this summer. She has been swimming in the pond and chasing her ball around the house on our new floors. She is so funny to watch slip and slide all over the place. Her latest trick is to take her ball to the top of the stairs and then drop it down and frantically chase after it. She does this for 30 - 45 minutes! She also loves to drop her ball in front of Drew because she knows he will always throw it for her. Drew has learned to tell Kitty to lay down. Tonight at dinner, we told Kitty to go "Platz on your mat" while we ate. A short time later she got up and was searching for crumbs under Drew's chair and Drew kept telling her "patz" "patz" - at first we couldn't figure out what he was saying but then we realized he was telling Kitty to lay down. Drew can also tell Kitty to "loose" and Kitty will actually listen to him! Those two are funny together. My mom took Drew to Oklahoma over the weekend and Kitty jumped in the car next to Drew and wouldn't get out. I practically had to drag her out of the car. She thought that if Drew was going, so was she.
Monday, September 3, 2007
I just loved this article in Christian Women Online by Ann Voshamp. It touched my heart and pushed me onward to seek a life of giving. I especially liked the scientific data backing up the delight we get when we give to others. John had me listen to an NPR program on the concept of love and the various hormones that are released when you fall in love. Funny that the release of oxytocin in present in both falling in love and generous giving.
He was all of eighteen months, crowned with a mess of ringlets that fell over one eye, when he began gloriously saying it. An only child, yet to be joined by siblings, he lifted our house with exuberance. The place was his. But he kept charitably, delightfully saying, “Yours.” Our hands would fall upon his glossy 1456 International tractor, his engine-red train, scuffed and worn, his basket of board books and beloved Beatrix Potter. And he would singsong: “Yours! Yours!” What a rhapsodic, generous notion! This just grown baby studded with celestial blue eyes, giving his world away to the world, one piece at a time: “Yours! Yours! Yours!” We basked in this blissfully strange absence of selfishness.
And then, as I handed him an alphabet block one sun-saturated afternoon, I think it was the “e” one, I stumbled upon it. Because I customarily wrapped entertainments up in the phrase “Yours,” he had mistakenly come to think that the term “yours” meant, understandably, “mine!” All this happy time the child had had his meaning inverted, upside down to what he intended. Ironically, his upside down was precisely right-side up. We would spend the rest of our parenting years trying to make our way back to that upside down, right-side up notion of “Yours”.
“Yours.” It’s starkly simple: nothing in the limitless expanse of the universe rivals the raw potency of giving. Of saying, “Here, this is yours. I am yours.” For God so loved the world, He gave. And science, unsurprisingly, has discovered it to be so: Give, and one receives more happiness. Give and one receives more health. Give and one receives more life to live.
MRIs substantiate Biblical, transformative truth: “It is better to give than to receive.” While in the midst of receiving a gift, neurons deep in the brain trigger dopamine, the happy chemical. But when one is in the act of giving, donating a gift, the brain works even more powerfully. Jordan Grafman, chief scientist with the National Institute of Health asserts from his research: “The same regions of the brain that are associated with the good feelings you have when you get something yourself were the same areas that were activated when you give. That surprised us. And not only were the same areas involved, but in fact they were more activated when you give than when you receive.”
Giving kindles deep satisfaction and fulfillment in the recesses of our being. And, in this particular study, researchers found that giving induced another chemical that receiving failed to activate: oxytocin. The chemical released when one feels love.
When we give, we feel love. God-love. Merciful, gracious, benevolent love. When we give, we enter the way of God. God is love. If your child enters into the way of God, giving and engaging in helping activities, the evidence asserts that a lifetime later of sixty to seventy years, long after your days on this earth are but a memory, your child will still be reaping health benefits. Children who give of their time, resources, and talents are found to live deeper, richer lives: better school grades, less drug and alcohol use, and more likely to keep giving all their lives. Teach a child to say the simple word, “yours,” and you change a life.
Jesus said the more blessed life is the giving life. That’s the one we want for our children. Highly regarded psychology scientists agree: “One of the best ways we can help our kids is to encourage their own generosity.”
How do we teach a child to lose his life, so he may find it? Jesus whispers the answer: “It is enough that a disciple be like his teacher” (Matthew 10:24). The answer is us.
Jesus lived the giving-away life as our example, and now we live it as the model for this next generation. Awkwardly, but determinedly, I mindfully take up this generous way, quickening young ones to come too.
“YES! I have the privilege of giving you breakfast this morning! Cream of wheat or smoothies?…. Let’s make cookies today and give Daddy a surprise!…. Can I give you a hand with that?… Let’s give your sister a treat and make her bed for her!…. Can I give you a backrub before tucking you in?…. Think we could come up with a plan to give much to the emergency aid campaign? …. Why don’t we make bread today to give to the kind widow woman at church?”
Some days frowns meet such invitations. Dragging feet and mumbling. Some days I too want simply what I want when I want it. And then we shake ourselves up: “Let’s really try out the Jesus-way. An experiment in a day of giving. And let’s see if the giving life really is more blessed…or not.” So, some days, we begin, half-hearted, this giving trial, me leading the giving way.
(Decade long studies concur with Jesus that the giving must begin with me: The strongest predictive factor for helpful behavior in children? The presence of nurturing, giving, supportive adults. So I gulp hard, pray harder, and attempt to give and kiss these brains and souls into mature wisdom.) At the gateway then to everyday, oblivious to the sway of feelings, we pray over breakfast: “Lord, freely we have received, let us freely give. What good can we give today?” So we think, purpose, plan. We live and give. At day’s end, as we pull up the quilts and God rolls out the stars, we whisper in the quiet, “Lord, freely we have received, did we freely give? What good did we give today?” This reflection on the day is the prayer of examen, the “search me, O God, and know my heart, test me and know my thoughts” prayer (Ps. 139-23).
We are attempting to frame our days, beginning and ending, in the Jesus-way of giving.
We wake, and we sleep, giving. We are surprised by joy.
We give up this saying of “mine.” And whisper to the Giver, “I am yours.”
©2007, Ann Voskamp