When Skies are Gray

Spring didn’t make a very friendly entrance this year. Day after relentless day of pounding rain and gray skies. The legion of ants, making their annual trek from the maple, across the driveway, up the walls of our house into the kitchen. Temperatures that stubbornly include a “4” in the 10’s place.

And the final clincher – the spring-like buds growing in our hearts without a single encumbrance throughout the winter suddenly froze over last week with an abrupt change in Baby Boy’s case.

We still have him, and he continues to flourish and bloom. But now, a future that seemed admittedly hazy to begin with, forks out in several paths, some of which cause my gut to clench.

Right along with the foster parenting upheaval the first week of spring, biological parenting also weathered some icy blasts, reminding me of my frailty as a mom and my lack of control over the destinies and choices of my children.

This parenting business is such a journey of faith. We toil in the ground, tending the soil and the seedlings, delivering this seemingly smart lesson and that supposedly rich experience. We pull weeds and add nutrients. We make mistakes. Although there are myriad books and scriptural applications, there are no absolute promises that one’s child will take root, grow, and flourish in the way you hope.

parking lot

In foster parenting, one hardly dares to hope. I mean, who has hope for a little seedling that is pulled from its plot of origin, replanted in someone else’s garden, only to be transplanted hither and yon, at the whim of the “gardening authorities”?

But hope, one must. It is, after all, a pillar of what remains when all else fades: Faith, Hope, and Love. Faith brought us to this place, in this garden, with these little plants. Love, which sustains and stitches us all together. And hope like the promise of sunshine when skies are gray.

I hope because of our God, whose glory it is always to have mercy. This line from a book of prayers, repeated itself 21 times across the week, multiplied in my thoughts across the days, and melted icicles of doubt the first week of spring.

A track from a pretty little album I sometimes play when I’m home with Baby Boy came on this week: “You are my Sunshine”. Is there a single parent who hasn’t sung this in a rocking chair with a child? The melancholy last line of the chorus, whimsically leaving my lips without a thought with my older kids, chokes me up now.

Onward we walk into the ever lengthening light of spring, remembering that the light we carry from the hand of our merciful God will guide us through the storm. And while we walk forward, we enjoy our little sunshine, whose smile makes us happy, even when skies are gray.

baby boy

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Spring Begins

“Oh, yes! Tell us about Aslan!” said several voices at once; for once again that strange feeling – like the first signs of spring, like good news, had come over them.” – C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe

Every week in the Social Communication Groups I help teach at York Elementary, the group begins with “Question of the Day”. I start by asking one of the children a question, then that child asks the same question to another child, and so on until everyone has asked and answered the question. A couple weeks ago I asked, “What have you noticed that makes you think spring is coming?” The kids were as delighted as I was to recognize the signs of spring…buds on branches, daffodils, longer hours of daylight, not needing a coat at recess! One child stated that he knows spring is coming because when he looks at his calendar, he sees the words, “Spring Begins”. We have some very concrete thinkers in our Social Communication Groups.

I know spring is coming when I start thinking about summer. For me, spring is merely a means to an end, the end being summer. Everything good about spring gets even better come late June – really long days, much warmer weather (but rarely too hot), so much green below and blue above you think you’ve never seen such beauty. Flowers, vegetables, berries, rivers, hikes, camping, relatives visiting, bare feet, NO SCHOOL! My soul expands and lightens in the summer. As soon as we get a few warm days in March, I get that strange, good feeling…Aslan is on the move! Winter is finally over, summer is on its way! I don’t mind the trail of ants that reappears in my kitchen because that means it’s finally warm enough for them to emerge (not that I let them live long, happy lives). I gleefully tear off the paper snowflakes taped to our front windows, sweep up the now dying ants, and think about summer. Olaf and me, we are kindred spirits.

“Winter’s a good time to stay in and cuddle, but put me in summer and I’ll be a…happy snowman!” – Olaf the Snowman

Two things get my nose out of my book and my chilled feet out from under the wool blanket (their preferred places of repose November through March) when signs of spring appear: The Garden and The Book Club.

My vegetable garden is nothing special. I will not write much about it because if you wanted to know anything about gardens I would direct you to anyone but myself. But it is beautiful to me. Spring is when the weeds come out, seeds go in, green life shoots up, and local herbivores beware the wrath of the humans who leave them alone the rest of the year.

The Book Club is another matter entirely. This is the summer book club for moms and daughters I started three years ago, inspired by words from Ephesians which are also the title of this blog. The book club girls fight for justice – in our homes and neighborhoods and schools, and in dark places where slavery still exists. The book club has become as much a part of summer to me as camping and jam-making. And spring is when book club thoughts wake up from their hibernation and start to grow. I wonder what they will grow up to become by the end of August?

Spring is hope and hard work and waiting on Aslan to do his magic. And I give thanks for this season.