Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Stained-glass Momma: A Look into the Window of a Mommy Soul

"People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within." —Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

My sons' preschool years consisted both of bright, blissful days and dark, difficult times. During one challenging time, I enrolled in a stained-glass workshop. After tracing a pattern on colored glass, my wrists rolled outward to snap the scored pieces. Razor-sharp edges sliced my fingers. The glass remained intact, oblivious to the scratch from the sharp, well-oiled cutter.

The broken pieces of my yet-unformed project represented my stained-glass story: the transparency of shattered dreams, the fragility of life, and how would I put together the design of my future amidst disappointment and betrayal?

Against all my hopes and spiritual beliefs, I found myself thrust into the role of solo Mom with a nursing infant and an angry, hurting preschooler. Financially ruined, I felt emotionally bankrupt. I worried, How can Kristoffer and Kyle see the beauty of God's light revealed through me?

This stained-glass momma never wished to be an ordinary piece of clear glass. Only the window of my mommy soul could provide Kristoffer and Kyle a glimpse into my spiritual passion and identity as God's creation. God's truths remained the leading and frame holding together the fragments of my life.

Coloring in God's Design from My Past

Daddy was a pagan. Mother was a regular church-going Methodist. When I was nine months old, my parents attended a Baptist evangelistic service in converted banana warehouse in Mississippi. For the first time they heard: God loves you so much. He sent his son, Jesus, to die for your wrong actions and attitudes. Your sins are forgiven. You can have new life. Trust Jesus. They asked Jesus to forgive them and our family's spiritual heritage changed.

Afterwards, a still small voice whispered to my dad, Tell others about Jesus. He resisted the strong urge to preach. Daddy packed up Mommy and his favorite toddler 'me' and moved us from the land of Dixie to Yankee territory. Daddy was sure God did not live "up north."

He discovered God lived in Indiana too and was still in hot pursuit of his heart. Daddy registered at Fort Wayne Bible College and the bishop appointed him as minister to the Woodburn Methodist Church.

As I wiggled on a church pew, Daddy passionately talked about his Lord. Not all pew sitting was enjoyable. Once Mother pinched my leg as a signal to stay still. I hollered, "Don't spinch me, Mommy!"

During my preschool years, Christ dramatically changed my Mom and Dad. The result? I loved Jesus. Often mom found me standing on a stool in the middle of the kitchen, waving my hands, and preaching.

When I was five years old, I asked my dad to baptize me in the baptistery. He said, "You don't understand what baptism means."

I replied, "Yes, I do. It means I've accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and I love Jesus!" I did not get to swim in the baptismal tank, which was my strong motivation for baptism. Instead, Daddy dinged me on the head with a red rose dipped in holy water.

Over the years, I observed the hours my parents spent inhaling God's Word. As a teenager, I nicknamed my father "a space cadet for Christ." He was the only man in the neighborhood who mowed the lawn in wing tip shoes, church pants, and a button-down, collared shirt, complete with tie. Daddy held the lawn mower with one hand and waved his other hand as he preached.

Before Kristoffer and Kyle were born, my father died suddenly. My first look at him lying in the casket prompted this thought. That is not my dad. My dad is with Jesus. I felt happy for Dad, then panicked. His brain is gone and so is everything he learned about the Bible! A soft voice whispered to my heart, "That knowledge has not vanished. It's in your Bible and you can know it for yourself."

Revealing True Light in the Present

While married, I joined a Precept Bible study. The inductive study method provided the tools I needed to know how to explore God's Word for myself. Like Daddy, I now found my greatest passion was to search the pages of the Bible discovering exciting spiritual truths.

After each Precept class, I
picked up Kristoffer from the toddler nursery. I enthusiastically said, "Guess what I learned about God today?"

My excitement stirred Kristoffer's curiosity. "What, Mommy? Tell me." He listened intently as I distilled God's truths down to a child's language.

Kristoffer challenged me with theological questions, "Mommy, who is the Holy Spirit? What does the Holy Spirit look like?"

"The Holy Spirit is God's special helper. He's like the wind. Can you see the wind, Kristoffer?

"No. I feel it."

"Like the wind, you can't see the Holy Spirit, but you can feel him. He also talks inside of you. When you choose to play with a "look don't touch," is there something that says 'No'?"

"Yes, Mommy."

"That, Kristoffer, is the Holy Spirit."

To pass on to Kristoffer and Kyle the same legacy my father left me, I read verses from my Bible. Then I asked, "What did God ask Samuel to do?" "What did Samuel do?" "What did God say He would do?" "Did God do what He said He would do?"

It was important for Kristoffer and Kyle to grasp an accurate picture of who God is—a reliable Father. His Word and character are the same yesterday, today, and forever. God is who He says He is and does what He says He will do.

Even so, it seemed as if what I studied in the Bible had little practical application to parenting preschoolers. How did the tabernacle, blood sacrifices, a red heifer, and circumcision relate to the challenges I faced with Kristoffer and Kyle? I prayed, "God, please help me apply what I learn to raising my sons."

After reading about Eli's failure to restrain his unruly sons, I asked God, How do I discipline my sons?

One day Kristoffer came to me with my fake fingernail in his hand, "Here, Mommy, I found your fingernail."

"Thank you, son, for finding Mommy's fingernail. Please put it in my hand."

"I'll put it on the dresser."

Normally, I would have affirmed Kristoffer. "Thank you so much. You are such a wonderful son."

However, a study of Judah's response to God's command in Judges flashed through my mind. God's people asked Him, "Who will lead us in the battle against preschoolers… OOPS! the Canaanites?"

"Judah will go. I've given the land to him."

Judah did not conquer the land.


Instead of depending upon his alliance with God to defeat the enemy, Judah turned to Simeon and said, "Fight with me."

Partial obedience is disobedience.

I recognized Kristoffer's offer to put the fingernail on the dresser as defiance.

"Kristoffer, please put the fingernail in my hand."

"I'll put it on the chest."

Firmly, I responded, "Kristoffer, put the fingernail in my hand."

He angrily slammed it into my hand, and then stomped out of the room.

Well, God, what can You teach me about attitude adjustment?

Leaving Stained-glass Memories for the Future

As a single parent, I wondered how God would artistically place the discolored pieces of my life—loneliness, stress, frustration, exhaustion—in the design of my new unplanned stained-glass life.

The evening Precept group I planned to attend did not have childcare. Turning disappointment into action, I started a group in my home.

I often got up at 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. to worship, read my Bible, and complete the lesson without distractions. Every time, a sleepy Kristoffer stumbled to my side. As I enjoyed time alone with God, I rubbed his back to put him back to sleep beside me.

During group time, Kristoffer and Kyle were welcome to sit with the women. I instructed them to stay quiet. If they needed anything, I told them to touch my arm, then I would stop and respond. Mostly, they sat on the stairs, laughing and teasing each other. However, their ears and eyes did not miss one word of the Bible study.

Shining the Light on My Life's Designer

One day, four-year-old Kyle declared, "I da boss of myself."

"I'm your boss, Kyle."

"No! I da boss of myself!"

"Kyle. I am your boss."

"Who's your boss?"



Was Kyle thinking about what Lisa of The Simpsons expressed about her view of God? "I'm no theologian. All I know is he's more powerful than Mom and Dad put together."

I tried to communicate my passion to Kristoffer and Kyle that my beliefs about the boss of my life are more than theological or intellectual—they are personal. I hope Kristoffer and Kyle appreciate the artful restoration of the discolored, broken pieces of my mommy soul by the Master Stained-glass Designer.

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