Friday, May 29, 2009

Diamonds on My Crabgrass

"Let your life lightly dance on the edges of time like dew on the tip of a leaf." —Rabindranath Tagore

Diamonds on My Crabgrass

Dreary, overcast clouds greeted me as I stepped outside, further depressing my already gray mood, until…

Water drops dressing my tenacious crab grass sparkled like dewy diamonds, cheering my spirit. Desiring a National Geographic photo, I wanted to get down to crabgrass level.

No time for wet belly photography, Scoti.

Too Much to Do, Too Little Time

My tight schedule only provided a sliver of time to run errands. I jumped in the car, wondering, When a thick layer of clouds blocks the sun's ray, how is it possible for the dewdrops to catch the light and sparkle? Too often the shadowy haze of the never-ending duties of single parenting obscure the smiles of God's beauty surrounding me.

The priceless, watery jewels' glad voices beckoned. My muse insisted, "Grab your camera—now—and capture their ephemeral magnificence."

I'm too busy.

Would I give into the pressing demands robbing me of this moment to lift hardship's black veil, dimming the sunny spots in my soul? My withered heart suffered from emotional drought. It needed watering.

I ran back into the house, grabbed my camera, and began photographing the fair, sparkling beads shining pure under the gloomy sky.

Click by click…

Each captured droplet refilled the dry emotional well of my heart.

Drop by drop.

And my heart danced.

The Dew of Heaven

My Bible provides a shimmery light piercing the darkness of my life's struggles. God's words are as fresh as the morning dew. His warm love dries my teardrops.

In the valleys draped with depression, I draw hope and energy from his promises. Like the fragile dewdrop's journey, my sorrows will last but a day on God's calendar. Tears of mourning precede tomorrow's bright morning.

Just as the cloudy sky failed to hinder the dew's glisten, I ignored the tug of life's mêlée to stop and enjoy a brief moment of God's antidepressant on display.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Pain or Promise: The Price of Children

"Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children."—Charles R. Swindoll

When my monthly childcare bill and apartment rent surpassed my monthly take-home pay, I lived in panic mode. I worried, How will I provide for my sons? When Kristoffer entered first grade, I couldn't afford school clothes.

God provided.

Laurie, my babysitter and dear friend, gave me the clothes her son, Scott, outgrew. As winter approached, I couldn't afford a winter coat for Kristoffer.

God provided.

Years before, my grandmother bought coat lining and I'd purchased navy blue corduroy on sale. Perfect compliments for Kristoffer's new bomber jacket. I stayed up all night sewing a coat, finishing it at dawn, just in time to drive him to school in his new, warm coat.

I found it very painful to overcome my guilt and expectations that I couldn't give my sons more opportunities and things that only money can buy. I wish I'd spent less time allowing money stresses to drain me emotionally and more time thanking God for his provision. Looking back, we survived, thrived, and clung to God's promises.

Single parents often grieve about what they can't give their children, instead of focusing on what we can provide: a strong work ethic, a 'can-do' attitude, and trust in God's ability to meet our needs.

The Price of Children

Single parents worry about the cost of raising a child. Why? It's expensive to raise a child alone, especially without the benefit of child support. The United States Department of Agriculture released the report "Expenditures on Children by Families, 2007" which estimated expenditures two-parent and single-parent families spent on children from birth through age 17. When you look at the cost for single parents—$140,520—it seems insurmountable. And those six figures don't include a college education.

But what does "the cost of raising a child" look like when divided equally by 18 years?

  • $7806.66 a year (my yearly childcare costs were more than this figure)
  • $650.56 a month
  • $162.64 a week
  • $21.83 a day
  • Barely a dollar an hour

The Rewards of Raising Children

And exactly what did I receive for my $140,520 investment?

  • naming rights: first, middle, and last
  • glimpses of God every day
  • lots of kisses, hugs and laughs
  • more love than my heart ever dreamed it could experience
  • endless wonder over rocks, bugs, clouds, video games, and Lego® creations
  • someone to come home to everyday that loved me

For $140,520, I enjoyed childish pleasures. I

  • climbed trees
  • finger-painted
  • carved pumpkins
  • colored Easter eggs
  • found escaped snakes lost in my house

I didn't need an excuse to

  • watch Dumbo at least 122 times
  • read Green Eggs and Ham more times than I could count
  • watch Disney movies
  • wish on stars

I treasure my sons'

  • school art projects
  • handmade Christmas decorations
  • handprints set in plaster
  • painted handprints on sweat shirt
  • handmade cards for holidays

I was a hero for

  • retrieving my sons safely off the roof
  • taking the training wheels off a bike
  • removing splinters and bumblebee stingers
  • buying nails by the pounds to build a tree house
  • coaching my son's basketball team, even though I didn't understand the rules

For a $21.83 a day, there is no greater bang for the hard-earned, single-parent buck. In the eyes of a child (before puberty), I ranked right up there with God. I

  • made boo-boos better with kisses and Superman Band-Aids
  • calmed scary nightmares
  • soothed broken hearts
  • policed slumberless parties
  • grounded my sons for bad choices
  • loved them unconditionally

I received a front row seat in history to witness

  • stitches, stitches and more stitches
  • boys, toys, dogs, and frogs
  • graduation from preschool
  • graduation from kindergarten
  • graduation from middle school
  • graduation from high school
  • graduation from basic training
  • graduation from special forces school
  • graduation from special forces survival training
  • my first born's first born

Along the way my sons and I obtained educations in:

  • life's ups and downs
  • house remodeling
  • landscaping
  • bargaining
  • car repair
  • and God's provision

I love my sons with all my heart and passed my values onto them. Now it's their turn to count the cost of loving—sacrificially, unconditionally—no matter what surprises life springs on them.