I looked forward to giggles,
and ice cream kisses,
crayon letters and
sidewalk art.

I saved your fingerprints,
and your phone messages.

I photographed your smiles, tears, and silly faces.
I played like a true playmate.
And while you slept,
 I journaled these magic moments in my heart.

And I worried,
but not about the everyday stuff
of making beds, washing dishes, or paying bills.
I worried that there would never be enough
time with you.

I feared that all my love and energy
could not stop time from passing too quickly
to capture enough of you.

I was right.

I wrote this poem for my granddaughter, Avery, when she was almost four years old. It was a season in our lives when I was moving to another state and she was moving on to another babysitter. I felt like someone had ripped a hole into my chest – an Avery shaped hole. I could not imagine someone else experiencing her day to day – the precious hugs, the infectious smile, the silly songs.

As I was reading the poem this week, I thought about the many parents and grandparents who are sending their children off to school. Some hitting milestones like our Avery, who is starting middle school, and our Myles, who begins Kindergarten. Others will join the ranks in high school or move away to college, while some are somewhere in the middle of their schooling careers. There will be tears of sadness and shouts for joy, and in some households a little of both.

This season caused a reminiscence and reflection time for me. I couldn’t help but sit and think about the truth statement, “every thing can change in an instant”. Like the moment this summer when Avery told me that she was done playing with baby dolls. But hadn’t she just ask for one last Christmas? “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man (6th grader), I put away childish things,” 1 Corinthians 13: 11. And when Anthony, our then junior in college, announced that he had met the girl he was going to marry – “but I found the one whom my soul loves,” Song of Solomon 3:4. I vowed, then and there, to love her too because this is my baby boy and I would honor his wishes. Or, the day Blake walked off the softball field and said that she was finished. We knew it had been a good run and that life is much more than a field and a bat and a ball. Still, a long standing dream came to an end much sooner for Blake than for us I’m afraid. “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand,” Proverbs 19:21. And finally last Wednesday, with the Facebook post of little Miss Myles in her Kindergarten snapback, it hit me like a brick. My grand babies are both in school! Not my kids – but my grandkids!

Cliches come flooding in: “don’t blink,” “time flies,” “you’re gonna miss this,” “once you’ve lost it you’ll never get it back”. And the words of James 4:14 resonate with my soul, “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” A vapor – poof.

And, I feel compelled to say that you just won’t capture enough, but please capture all that you can…

I saw Jesus Today…

Today I saw Jesus. It was most unexpected and humbled me to the core.

Early afternoon started with a somewhat traumatic stop at the tattoo/piercing parlor in Asheville, NC (another story – another time). My daughter Blake, her girlfriend, Cam and I did a little shopping and stopped for lunch. It was pleasant enough and I was practicing my best truth and grace balance.

We started the walk back to the truck. Blake and Cam were slightly in front of me. A few feet away I saw a man, seemingly homeless and tattered looking. He lit up as he saw my daughter approaching him. She said his name and embraced him warmly. He said, “I love you, “ and she loved him back. He said he had missed seeing her and wanted to know where she’d been. He assured her that he was doing great and he was pretty convincing with his big yellow grin. She made introductions – first, Cam and then mom. And, I saw it coming. He was moving in and my body tightened. Oh my word – here it comes – he’s going to hug me. And he said, “And, I love you too.” And I said it back, but I wasn’t convinced. Was he? I saw love pouring out of my daughter to this man. I stood sizing him up – observing the marks up and down his arms and legs, the shabby, mismatched clothing, his unbrushed teeth, and a goofy hat that made him look animated and adorable. His kind blue eyes sparkled as Blake spoke with him (and Jesus knew what the Pharisees were thinking). In that moment, I was jealous of Blake’s ability (“love is an ability” – credit Dan In Real Life) and effortlessness to engage, and I was ashamed of my fear. She opened her wallet and dropped a couple of dollars into his torn, white paper bag that held his belongings. He pulled out a tiny Victoria Secrets bag and shared a story about a “once upon a time” girlfriend. We couldn’t help but smile. Cam offered up her “to go” lunch and he gladly accepted. He looked at me and said, “Well Momma, I love her.” And then – get ready – he was coming in again. He loved me too, and I relaxed (a little) still envying my daughter’s ability to give that full on hug. We said goodbye and Blake shared her relief that he was still alive. I walked and tried to reconcile what I had just witnessed, but a street away, we met another.

This time, Cam breathed a sign of relief as we approached an elderly man, sitting in a wheelchair on the sidewalk. He was legless and wore a veteran’s cape – I guessed Vietnam. Cam told him that she was concerned that he hadn’t been at his usual spot at the “wall” lately, and he explained the amputation of his second leg to diabetes – a different kind of war. He told us that he spoke with the Lord and the Lord wasn’t ready to take him home yet. So he vowed to return to the spot he’d held for the past 12 years sitting at the “Before I Die” wall – where people chalked their hopes and dreams. This was his ministry. He spoke of Job and of his own family lineage. He smiled, shook his head and said, “I’m tired”. I stood in awe. I could feel myself smiling and I heard myself say “amen” as he relayed to us that the Lord had told him he didn’t need legs to get into heaven and that God had a brand new pair waiting for him there. “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you”, Job 42:5. He looked at Cam, requested a hug, and she bent down to embrace him.

And I departed again with a, “God Bless you”, but it was clear that the partaker of the blessings today was me. Because today, I saw Jesus, and it was not in a pastor, a priest, a Sunday school teacher, or even in a church greeter. I saw Jesus in two young ladies whose walk I do not understand. And the Lord reminded me once again that I have no dictation in His design. Neither despite me, nor because of me has His kingdom come, but His love for me has engaged my participation. I saw Jesus not because I was looking, but because He chose to be seen.