Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cam reckons he saw an angel. Just sayin’.

Here’s an extract of a conversation that happened last night, on our way home from supper at Murray’s folks. Somewhere along Atterbury Road, the conversation somehow got onto angels, then went more or less like this:

Cam:      Mom, can you show me a picture of angels in one of our photo frames on the wall?
Me:        No love, we don’t have any photos of angels ‘cause we’ve never actually seen an angel; well, I  s’pose not that we know of.
Cam:      I’ve seen an angel.
Me:        Really? When did you see an angel? [Humouring him…]
Cam:      At Aunty Manty [Samantha]. When I was doing OT.

Silence. Grownup glances are exchanged.

Me:        Um… Shoo. Wow. Really boy?
Cam:      Yes.
Me:        Um – ok… What did the angel look like? What was it wearing?
Cam:      He was as big as me. He was my size. He was wearing blue shorts and a red shirt.

More grownup glances, this time accompanied by simultaneous Holy-Spirit-type goose bumps and sceptical smiles.

Me:        Wow. Um. 
Murray:  Was he at Aunty Manty’s house, boy? What was he doing?
Cam:      Yes he was helping me do OT at Aunty Manty.
Me:        What was he helping you with?
Cam:      He was helping me ‘cause I had to find the holes on the paper for the pencil to go through and I couldn’t see the holes so well and he was helping me. [This was a visual therapy exercise Samantha did with him months ago.]

Immediate goose bumps. On reflection, tears.

Murray:  And Cammy did Aunty Manty also see the angel?
Cam:      No I don’t think so really; it was just me. I just saw the angel.
Murray:  And did the angel say anything or was he just quiet?
Cam:      No he was just quiet. I think it was a boy or a girl or whatever. He just helped me in the beginning when I just started OT and I was struggling with OT. He doesn’t help me anymore.

So call me a freak. I dunno. I cross-examined Cam this morning and looked for signs of fibbing. That’s his story and he’s sticking to it.

Was it his wild imagination? A subconscious response conjured by emotions? An imaginary friend? The brain's way of compensating for disability? A unique manifestation of God’s ever present help in trouble? Or maybe, an angel?

Murray and I were smiling silly, and quite emotional. Because whatever it was, we got to see Cam’s unquestioning, uncomplicated faith. I don’t suppose we’ll ever know what he saw, and as someone who generally errs on the side of scepticism I’m certainly not advocating that anyone builds their doctrine of supernatural beings around the account of a three-year-old. But I was reminded that one thing’s for sure:

Jesus loves me, this I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong –
They are weak but He is strong.

Angelic manifestations or not, Cam is never, never alone.

‘For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go.’ – Psalm 91:11

‘Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realising it.' - Hebrews 13:2

 Cam and Tyla

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A small miracle of vision: the sunset in a sucker

In the car, on the way home, after the Valentine’s picnic at Heavenly Tots, Cam expressed this profound fragment of aesthetic appreciation.

Cam:      Georgina’s sucker was the colour of the sun when it’s setting.
Me:        Oh wow! So was it a red sucker or was it more of an orangey colour?
Cam:      It was red. It was the colour of the sun when it’s setting, when the sky is turning dark navy blue.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. – Psalm 19:1

And here’s Mommy’s little helper, earnestly and assiduously cleaning the bunk beds with a wetwipe…

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Celebrating chaos and humility

This morning I find Cam sitting at the kitchen counter, about to take a swig of the Panado. I scold him ferociously for playing with medicine, and myself for leaving it out. Then I drop the Panado on the floor (in an attempt not to drop Scott, who is crying because I yelled at Cammy). Superb. Glass. Sticky green. Both boys crying now. Lola is concerned for us all, so she walks through the Panado to check on us. More sticky green – golden retriever prints right out the kitchen door and beyond. Murray gets the mop and we perform alternating manoeuvres involving teeth-brushing and Panado-mopping and glass-splinter-retrieval and juice-bottle-filling and school-bag-packing and nose-blowing and tempers are beginning to blaze, somewhat. Mutterings and apologies. Panado and tears mostly mopped. We flee the premises in a state of dubious readiness for the day.

The traffic on Glenwood Road soothes me in a slow, bumper-to-bumper kind of way as John Robbie’s Irish lilt solves the world’s problems. And I think: shouldn’t I be celebrating life? Shouldn’t I be finding God’s glory in the mundane and the magnificent and the spilt muti?

So, I’m celebrating the life that two warm little bodies can throw into an ordinary Thursday morning and I’m seeing God’s glory in teachable moments and forgiveness for my failings and the hope of handling things better next time.

‘Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.’ – Lamentations 3:23

Sunday, February 12, 2012

God’s glory in fire, flirting and other stories


The other night Cam took ages to fall asleep. As a last resort I read to him, softly and hypnotically, the story of Elijah calling down fire from heaven to prove that his God was more powerful than Baal. I was trying to make the story sound soporific, not enthralling. He did fall asleep, and I didn’t think he’d heard a thing. But his first words when he ran into our room the next morning were, ‘Dad! God and Elijah made fire come down from the sky on the big braai they were making!’ Old stories sound thrillingly new in his mouth.

Old songs also sound new in his mouth. He asked me to play ‘Seek ye first’ on the piano yesterday (because it’s one of the small handful of pieces I can play, you know, with those three chords that I know…). He then created an ear-splitting cacophony, banging up and down the keyboard and mumbling some words. I asked him what he was playing and he informed me earnestly, ‘I’m playing ‘Seek ye first’ in French.’


I marvel at the way Scotty interacts with other kids. Other people would say he’s just ‘normal’ but to us his smiling eyes and the charming, flirtatious way that he bashes girls on the head is such a gift. For a long, long time Cam didn’t really notice other kids, which was unexpectedly heart-breaking for me. (Now of course Cam is making up for lost time by talking eloquently and vociferously to anyone who will listen, and some who won’t.)

I also find Scott paging through books on his own, pointing and trying to say stuff. A gift, I tell you. There’s so much of God’s glory in what gets yawned at as ‘normal’.

Scott understands pretty much every instruction. We know this by how fast he can turn and run (= waddle rapidly), usually laughing riotously, when we tell him to put something down. He is starting to get the idea that frowns, smacks, stern tones and the like are actually cause for serious concern and instant remorse. His obedience levels are slowly rising, but the measurements on his cuteness barometer are still off the charts, which makes disciplining him particularly hard.  Like when he thought that climbing onto the dining room table and tossing my iPad onto the tiles was a noteworthy feat. He even clapped for himself.


Cam’s Top Two Most Difficult Questions to Answer this week were:

‘Mom, why are some people born with cataracts on their eyes? Why was I born with cataracts on my eyes?’


‘Dad, why can’t we see air? Is it because there’s no paint in the right colour to paint it?’


I am enjoying the fact that my boys still think I am the coolest person to hang out with. Last week, some colleagues and I performed a ridiculously OTT rendition of Abba’s Mama Mia, for the St Alban’s Talent Show. We did win, but not because we were talented; only because our ridiculousness induced happy hysteria. We hired costumes and borrowed wigs. I looked seriously dodgy. Cam, however, told Murray, ‘Mommy looks like a princess in that fancy shiny outfit!’ Ah, the adorable naivety and misplaced taste!


Seven years, two months and one week ago, Murray said this to me:

Before God, our family and friends, I, Murray Watson Reyburn, take you, Dalene Dawn Smith, to be my wife. I promise to pursue the God-inspired picture of my role as your husband. For better, for worse, in sickness and in health, I will pray for you. I will be your leader, lover, protector, provider and priest. I will seek to inspire your dreams and encourage you to become all God wants you to be. I will be your best friend and your refuge from the world. I will respect you and support you in all things. I will seek your forgiveness when I’ve wronged you. I promise you my honesty and loyalty, and that I’ll seek to put your needs above mine. If God gives us children I will give them the greatest gift of all by loving their mother. I promise to forsake all others and remain faithful to you until death parts us or the Lord returns for His own.

We wrote our own wedding vows – they are framed above the piano. I don’t get tired of reading them. I’ve been particularly aware lately that ‘The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain…’ (Proverbs 10:11) and that what Murray promised me wasn’t just feel-good romance (though romantic it was – is). He promised me a lifetime of strength, companionship and unconditional love. I am supremely blessed. I just share this because being a mom is tough some days but those promises underpin and energise and empower me in a pretty miraculous way, and I see God’s glory in the way he designed the human home.

‘When the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation.’ – Proverbs 10:25

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Of noise, dirt and courage

Here are two nouns on my heart today:

1: common noun: BOY

What an inspired definition. And to think that I have two of these! Love it. Made my day.

2: abstract noun: COURAGE

I love these lyrics from Casting Crowns. Just think how unrecognisable society would be if every mom or dad prayed for every little heart to be infused with this kind of courage. It’s the stuff of dreams and goose-bumps. It’s possible.

We were made to be courageous
We were made to lead the way
We could be the generation
That finally breaks the chains
We were made to be courageous
We were made to be courageous

We were warriors on the front lines
Standing, unafraid
But now we're watchers on the sidelines
While our families slip away

Where are you, men of courage?
You were made for so much more
Let the pounding of our hearts cry
We will serve the Lord

We were made to be courageous
And we're taking back the fight
We were made to be courageous
And it starts with us tonight

The only way we'll ever stand
Is on our knees with lifted hands
Make us courageous
Lord, make us courageous

This is our resolution
Our answer to the call
We will love our wives and children
We refuse to let them fall

We will reignite the passion
That we buried deep inside
May the watchers become warriors
Let the men of God arise

We were made to be courageous
And we're taking back the fight
We were made to be courageous
And it starts with us tonight

The only way we'll ever stand
Is on our knees with lifted hands
Make us courageous
Lord, make us courageous

Seek justice
Love mercy
Walk humbly with your God

In the war of the mind
I will make my stand
In the battle of the heart
And the battle of the hand

In the war of the mind
I will make my stand
In the battle of the heart
And the battle of the hand

We were made to be courageous
And we're taking back the fight
We were made to be courageous
And it starts with us tonight

The only way we'll ever stand
Is on our knees with lifted hands
Make us courageous
Lord, make us courageous

We were made to be courageous
Lord, make us courageous