Monday, January 10, 2011

Sweet Hearts

Sometimes I worry about the future.

I realize that that statement does nothing to set me apart as unique...and everything to show that I'm just like almost every other person on this beautiful spinning ball we call Earth.  But even though worrying is a common condition for us humans, I believe it's not only wrong, but also completely useless!  It doesn't change anything.

When I think about the days to come, I never worry about money, rarely worry about health, but often feel concern about how my kids will turn out.  Not only do I hope they'll be kind and honest and friendly and helpful, I also, to borrow Sally's words from a comment on my last post, "want my children there in that spiritual family SO BADLY."  I know exactly how she feels.

At times, I wonder how the teen years will go for us.  In the same way that I don't buy into the mindset that the toddler years have to be atrocious, I also don't believe that the teen years have to be horrible.  But I do realize that there is a natural, God-ordained, breaking-away process that occurs during those years, and I wonder whether I--and my sons--will be able to handle that with grace and dignity.

When thoughts of the future crowd into my mind and threaten to tarnish the present, this thought comes back to me over and over and brings comfort to replace my anxiety:  I still have their hearts.

I don't know what the future holds.  I don't know how they'll act in 10 years.  I don't know what kind of heartbreak may come to me as I watch them make choices to which I'm totally opposed.

But here and now, on this day in January 2011, I still have their hearts.  They are still tender towards me.  They are not, however, little robots who obediently do whatever I ask them without ever complaining or arguing.  They're human--I'm human--and unfortunately, sin abounds too often in our household.  But even in the midst of that, even when they act selfishly towards their brothers, even when they're slow to obey, even when they have an attitude about doing a chore they dislike...even then, their hearts are still soft.

I wish I could adequately capture the times when I see this softness demonstrated so beautifully.  I try to write down their words; but it's more than words that expresses what I'm trying to communicate--it's their tone of voice, their facial expression, the tilt of their shoulders, the excitement barely contained in their little bodies.  I feel my attempts fall pitifully short, but what else do I have to help me remember these times?

Here are some recent examples of their sweet, sweet hearts:

David, who is social to the nth degree, was over at a friend's house when a pretty major argument broke out between two sons in that family.  Their mother apologized to me later and expressed her regret that my boys had had to see that, but I certainly wasn't casting blame because we have our fair share of rivalry around here for sure!  When I was talking about it later with David, he said in a quivering voice, "Maybe for the first time ever, I just wanted to come home."  This is the boy who wistfully exclaims whenever we're leaving a place to come home, "I wish I could live here!"  He has said that about numerous friends' homes, as well as the park, a play area in the Charlottesville mall, the cousins' house, the playground at the homeschool co-op we used to be a part of, etc.  He LOVES being with people, so for him to be so disturbed by the fight he witnessed showed me the soft side of his heart.

Another example involving David:  a while back, he had a dream about heaven, and this is what he told me about the dream.  In it, God said he could come back to earth for three days, but David wanted four so he could go to Disney World on one day, Disneyland on another day, and Aunt Lori's for two days.  Then he said he wanted one more so he could spend it with me!  In the dream, God wasn't wearing the blue "sash" that Jesus is often pictured with, just a white robe; and his voice was booming.  David got teary-eyed because he wants us to all go to heaven together, and I was thinking, "Oh, how sweet," then he said that the way that he got killed was by a Jedi!  Not so sweet after all.  :)

Heaven is very real to David.  In fact, after we almost got into a head-on collision on Switchboard Road back in November, he said, "I almost wish I would have died so that I could have gone to heaven and seen God already."  It reminded me of this conversation we had back in November of 2009.

Today David told me that, when he grows up, he wants to live in the little gray house my parents just moved out of.  That would be wonderful for him to live there, but I couldn't help but think of another little child who once told her parents she would never leave but would build a house on the top of their hill and stay with them always.  That girl, amazingly enough, grew up and decided that she could indeed leave them, drawn by her heart to such far-away places as California and Israel!  :)  When David strikes out on his own, I won't hold him to the desire he expressed today.  :)

Another way my boys demonstrate their sweet hearts is by public displays of affection...and when it involves my sons and me, I'm a big fan of PDA!  :)  At concerts, they want to sit close, even sitting on my lap.  During one of our potlucks, Josiah paused as he walked by me during the Bible study portion and kissed my cheek.  When we're going into his violin lessons, he sometimes reaches for my hand as we cross the street.  As long as they want to express their love to me in that way, I'll gladly receive it!

Josiah sometimes asks questions about the future--his future--and I can tell he's trying to plan out how he's going to live his life.  For example, in the middle of a conversation, he might blurt out, "How long can people be engaged?"  And he'll have this certain look in his eyes and a tiny smile at the corner of his lips, and I'll know that he's asking because he's thinking about her ("her" being a wonderful girl that has captured Josiah's eight-year-old heart but who shall remain nameless on this blog).  :)

One day, Josiah and David were talking about their weddings, and the conversation turned to maybe having their brothers be best men/groomsmen in their weddings.  They were concerned because they didn't know what girls to choose for bridesmaids! I reassured them that their bride could choose all the girls.  :)  Josiah was relieved because the girl he wants to marry has sisters that she could ask to be in the wedding!

On another day, Josiah and David got into some tiff; of course, I don't remember what it was about because such tiffs are rarely about anything truly important!  But for some reason, when it was time to apologize and forgive and hug and move on, Josiah was unexpectedly stubborn and would not humble out to open his arms and hug David.  I was so surprised and saddened by this hardness of heart that I literally started crying.  I know that women can use tears in a manipulative manner, and I do not want to do that with my sons any more than with my husband!  So I wasn't trying to put on a show to make Josiah sorry for what he had done; I was just genuinely shocked by his behavior, and my tears fell.  That unlocked the door to his heart, and his whole demeanor changed as his stubbornness melted away and he dissolved into my arms--and soon into his brother's arms for a conciliatory hug.  Needless to say, I was relieved that the hardness was so quickly replaced by softness again!

Last example:  our family has been dealing with some sickness recently, and we're such a sharing bunch that we just seem to pass it around to everyone in our household!  Fortunately, it's not a throwing-up sickness, for which I'm tremendously grateful; but the fevers, aches, coughing, and runny noses we've had aren't a barrel of laughs either.  This morning, David was feeling poorly, so before he even ate breakfast, he wanted me to snuggle with him.  I gladly would; but at the time, I had to give Shav his breakfast and do a few other things that I can't think of at the moment.  It gladdened my heart to hear Josiah say to David, "I'll snuggle with you!"  They did, and then Tobin joined them...
...and then they clamored for me to put Shav with them.  I obliged.  :)
In a day that held its customary share of tumultuous  moments, this was an oasis of peace; and just like Mary, I "treasured up all these things and pondered them in [my] heart."

These boys are so precious to me; and tonight, what I'm most grateful for is their softness.  Sure, I hope they'll grow up to be mighty men, ready to go out and conquer the world; but I also hope that I--and much more importantly, God--will always have their hearts.  

They'll always be my sweethearts, but beyond that, I hope they'll always keep their sweet hearts.  But for today, all I can do is reject worry and instead take care to notice and appreciate that I still have their hearts.  What a gift!  What a responsibility.


Homeschool on the Croft said...

Oh Davene, what a gift indeed. And what precious boys you have. We are blessed to have 2 girls and 2 boys. I love them all with all my heart - you understand that, as a mum - but our boys are particularly affectionate towards me - they are now 17 and 7. My older one has no qualms about putting his arm around me, kissing me head, giving me a quick hug. It's so precious. Like you, I want to have their hearts. Like you, I worry (more than you, I'm guessing!) about what they're gonna be like. We have 3 'teens', and - like you (again!) - I don't believe in any necessity for there to be tantrums etc (we never had tantrums when they were young, and I see so often what I believe to be self-fulfilling prophecies when toddlers behave as they do), but the teen years definitely have challenges that are, er 'challenging'! More than anything else we've had - yes, we had things easy when they were babies, toddlers and young children - the teens require more thought, more prayer, more 'psychology' than anything we've had to go through before.
I was thinking earlier this week (knowing how much we're in need of prayer ourselves) that I was going to commit to praying for parents who are truly seeking to bring their (our) families up for the Lord - some of my blogging friends are being taken into this enclosure!
We need prayer; our children need prayer - our enemy is out to get them, after all, what a prize our covenant children are for Satan to get, and what mocking unbelievers do when they see the children of unbelievers going astray.
Davene - I must STOP. I've written enough for a blog post of my own. Eeek. I do talk! You bring it out in me! x

Julie said...

I agree with those teen years being complex. I miss the "golden years" I call them when my 8 ducklings were all in a sweet row. Now we often have rows of a different sort. The ages and stages in this house are overwhelming (2-18 not tidily 2 years apart, though).

This morning in my reading from Joshua 6-10 God reminded me of this (from my journal)...

Be strong and courageous!
Do not be afraid or discouraged!
I rescue the prostitute.
The sexually broken.
I will rescue you.
Consult me.

Can you tell where my fears are ;)

Thanks for sharing your sweet heart, Davene, and the hearts of your boys.

Beth said...

Beautiful Davene.

I love how you put it "I still have their hearts." It is true that I too find myself thinking about challenging years ahead...already almost planning on difficult days and seasons...and while I am sure that they will come, I do not want to be convinced of it or dread the years to come!

What we can do is nurture them NOW and raise them up in truth and unconditional love. We can also continue to pray for them as they grow and are exposed to the realities of this world as they become young men and women.

You are doing an incredible job.

You do have 4 incredible sweet hearts there Davene. 4 young women are going to be bleseed to call those men their husbands one day.

Christie said...


Once again, thank you SO much for sharing your heart and family with us.

What beautiful hearts they have and what a great job you and Jeff (through the Lord) have done in raising them!

Sally said...

Your children are so sweet! I'm so glad you shared those tender times with us.

Yes, we still have their hearts. I so often forget that little people are watching me all the time, are sensing my attitude every minute of the day, are feeling the impact of my impatient reaction, and that my replies filled with frustration are making a permanent and lasting impression and memory on my children's minds. It seems there is not a day when I don't fail in some area of parenting, and boy, does it make me sad. Because now, at this age, they forgive easily and love me so very much--how could I push them aside when I'm in a hurry? But at the time, I've got to get the meal finished, or the laundry started or whatever it is. But really, what difference will 30 seconds to praise some artwork or watch the latest flying leap make? Not any in my chores, but a world of difference in their hearts. Honestly, I feel like I am "on stage" all the time my children are awake. I have to be patient, cheerful, kind, and thoughtful towards them, even when I don't feel like it. (I want to feel that way all the time, but I'm human.) Of course I don't always succeed, but it's what I am striving for.

I'm sorry to hear you all have been passing around the "cold" virus. I hope you all are better now (or soon will be) because now that I think we are better for more than a few days at a time, I want to visit again.

Thanks again for this post.