The Runaway Bunny

One of my all-time favorite children’s books is titled, “The Runaway Bunny”.  It’s the story of a small bunny who is looking to stake his independence in life and tells his mother he is going to run away. His mother, seemingly unmoved and unthreatened by her son’s declaration, simply tells him, “If you run away, I will run after you.  For you are my little bunny.”

I’ve been reading this book to my children for the past thirteen years now.  It was just recently that I gained a whole new perspective on the story.  And it is within this new understanding that I find the most simple, perhaps, most pure, definition of the relationship between God and each of His children.

As the story evolves, the little bunny submits several ideas on how he will escape the reach of his mother.  It isn’t made clear why he even wants to do this, but the reader is led to believe he is a free spirit and one who loves an adventure.  No matter what kind of escape this small bunny plans to make, the mother bunny calmly and quickly retorts his ideas with a solution of her own.  He’s going to become a fish and swim away; she will become a fisherman and fish for him.  He’s going to become a rock on a mountain; she will refine her mountaineering skills and make the climb to bring him home.  She is afraid of nothing and makes it clear that she will do everything possible to love her child and see to it that he is protected.  In essence, she will meet him wherever he’s at.

I love to think of God as that mother.  He does the same for each one of us, as we are all that little bunny in one way or another.  Personally, my desire for control has me hopping away from God constantly.  I continue to think it is best if I’m in charge, and I continue to learn differently.  I am so grateful that He never tires of chasing after me.  Life, the ups and downs, successes and failures, has us all running, or escaping, in different directions.  It’s our human nature.  We were all given the gift of free will and there always seems to be ample opportunity to misuse or abuse it.  This fast-paced, self-focused world of ours increasingly teaches us to run away from anything that makes us uncomfortable, to change course, leap to the other side of the fence where the grass must be greener.  On the contrary, God asks us to be still in the challenging times, in that which brings us out of our comfort zone, at least long enough for Him to meet us there and figure out a plan together.

While some may view God as unbending and austere, the truth of the matter is that He is nothing less than understanding in all things human and should be seen as quite flexible in nature.  I can personally attest to this in reviewing all the places He has met me.  In the midst of a dreary mood, He will meet me in the laughter of my boys, my daughter’s smile or the dry humor of my husband that never fails to deliver the ever-therapeutic belly laugh. In my doubt, He will meet me in the assuring words of a friend or place someone in my path that can relate to whatever it may be that is causing my anxiety or fear.  In my judgement of others, He meets me in the gentle, yet clear, reminders of just how “human” I am myself.  When faced with what might seem an insurmountable problem, He meets me in the hug of a loved one, the empathy of one who understands.  Big or small, I am never left walking alone.  And it is the times I remember to turn to prayer that I realize just how close, and how willing to act, God is.

My favorite page in the story is when the little bunny tells his mother he will become a boat and sail away from her.  His mother responds that she will then become the wind and “blow him where she wants him to go”.  I liken the wind to the Holy Spirit; always there, peacefully and subtly trying to coax us in the right direction.  He is the gentle breeze; the weight that tips the scale in the right direction when we are faced with a decision.  When Jesus ascended into Heaven, his physical presence was missed.  I imagine to those that knew and loved him when he walked this earth, it felt like they lost him all over again.  We all quickly learned however, that he is a man of his word.  He promised to never leave us and fulfilled that promise in the gifting of the Holy Spirit.  It was a transition that placed the burden on us to increase our faith, to commit to finding Jesus in our daily lives, all around us.  It also cemented Jesus’ need for each one of us to be his hands, his feet and his voice.  As we celebrate Pentecost this Sunday, we can all rejoice in the knowledge that wherever it is we may hide or however far we may run, we are loved enough for God to come and find us and bring us home where we belong.

The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown

The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown

A Note of Thanks

Dear Lord,

thank you

…for the gift of your Mother and her example of humility, strength, perseverance and grace.  My heart and my life have been deeply touched by her gentle presence and I am grateful each day that she never tires of giving you a little nudge when I am in need.

…for choosing just the right Mom for me.  I am so grateful for your foresight in knowing exactly the kind of mother I would need;

Selfless and always willing to put my needs before her own

compassionate and understanding even when she was tired and worn and even when I was asking more than I should have

a comforting and gentle presence, quiet when I needed her to listen, vocal when I had no words of my own

available, at all times, both hands and heart open and at the ready; ready to hug away my heartaches, dance with me in my moments of success and push me forward with encouragement when I couldn’t find it in me to believe in myself

Thank you Lord, for placing me in the arms and heart of a woman who has taught me so much about what it means to  live the vocation of motherhood, and live it well, a woman I cherish, a woman I am so honored to call Mom.

…for the Mother of my husband; a woman who raised a man I am so blessed to call my soul mate.  She modeled the kind of selfless love for him that he now offers me and his children each day.  I am so grateful for her role in raising a man who is kind, loyal, patient, true, giving and so fun to share this life with.  I am most thankful for her bringing my husband before you in baptism and raising him to know you, to love you and to serve you.

…for our daughter’s birth mother; the woman who gave our child life and loved her enough to place her in our family.

…for all the women in my life with whom I share this remarkable gift of motherhood.  I love to learn with them, laugh with them and grow with them.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Stuffties

One is a knit monkey, one a classic teddy and the other a puppet, of the female gender, with black yarn for hair.  These “stuffties”, as we refer to them in our house, are best friends to our two sons and daughter.  There is a connection between our children and their stuffed friends that is unspoken yet crystal clear all the same.

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Teddy was given to our oldest, TJ, for his first birthday.  It was a few years however, before their friendship developed.  They were mere acquaintances for quite some time, while TJ stubbornly held on to his pacifiers as his go-to item for comfort. After the pacifier fairy made a stop at our house to pick up all his binkies for the new babies, TJ then searched for a replacement and, before long, he and teddy were best of friends.

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I can vividly remember my husband’s reaction when I came home with Monkey.  He was certain Noah wouldn’t care for him, but I couldn’t very well return him.  Seriously, we all know stuffies have feelings.  They last thing I was going to do was crush his little knit heart while he just smiled at me, looking all cute and cuddly. Thankfully, my husband’s fears were unfounded and, come Christmas morning, Noah happily met his childhood soul mate.

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We struggled for quite some time to encourage, (ok, force) a connection between Mary-Rose and one of her baby dolls.  Her sleep patterns were leaving us weary and stressed and we were desperate for one of the stuffed residents in her room to take over for us. These types of friendships can’t be coerced however, and only mean something when they develop on their own.  Try as we might, for several years Mary didn’t care much about any of the dolls we left sleeping next to her in her crib. Wouldn’t you know it, the last doll we would have ever chosen, has become number one in her heart.

When TJ and Noah were young, there was no adventure too big for Monkey and Teddy. They ran a restaurant in our family room, opened a “fur” salon in the boys bedroom, ran cooking shows in the kitchen, starred in several movies, shook a tail at numerous dance parties and never failed to get into lots of trouble when we weren’t home.  Monkey even went to work with Dad one day and kept in touch by sending us email updates, one with an attachment of a photocopied picture of his backside (ahem…).

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Perhaps our favorite memory with Monkey and Teddy involves some classic video footage we were able to capture of our unsuspecting friends.  Before leaving for mass one Sunday, we set up the video camera in the playroom and brought Teddy, Monkey and a few other stuffed buddies into the room and left them on the floor.  TJ and Noah were astounded to come home and find video of their furry friends climbing the tripod to get to the camera and see what this strange thing was all about.  It was just a few months ago that we were able to find the “lost” tape and replay it for them.  This time around they noticed the strings that we had tied to the feet of the stuffed animals in order to pull them around the room and make them come alive.

I cherish my memories of TJ and Noah and their stuffed friends.  I love the beauty of a child’s heart and envy how easy it is for a child to love, to believe and make their world come alive.  Now TJ and Noah enjoy watching their little sister with “Baby”, her own stuffed buddy.  Baby is a puppet and Mary often wears her on her arm for a good portion of the day.  Their favorite thing to do together is dance and spin around the room until they both fall down.  This floppy, stringy-haired lady leads the way for our little sweetie who has a difficult time adjusting to new situations and navigating this sometimes overwhelming world. She faithfully attends school with her each day and demonstrates many of the tasks that are asked of Mary.

I remember asking TJ one time to divulge the wish he had made before casting a coin into one of his favorite fountains.  He made several wishes and would always refuse to tell me what he hoped this funny little past time would award him.  When he was older, and the whole idea of wishes had somewhat lost their magic, he finally told me that for all those years he tossed his coins in, he wished his heart out that Teddy would come alive to him, if even for a few minutes.

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At the time, I remember feeling so saddened that, for so many years, this sweet little trusting man of mine wondered why his wish was not coming true.  I always worked so hard at making their favorite friends come alive in the ways that I humanly could. I’m so grateful that there is one person who has not one human limitation and loves them enough to make magic in their lives.

Dear TJ, Noah and Mary-Rose,

When you reach an age that you find it difficult for Teddy, Monkey and Baby to protect you from all the boogie monsters in this world, to make any boo boo feel better, to share all your secrets, hopes and dreams with and you think it may be time to carefully place Teddy, Monkey and Baby in storage, I’m happy to tell you there is someone you can turn to that will take over caring for you as your stuffties always did.

This person is more than capable of fighting off any of the monsters in this world, will work tirelessly to protect you from pain and will stay close by your side when you are faced with difficult times.  While He may not technically be stuffed, you will find unmatchable comfort in Him.  He will be in the hugs of me and your Dad, hidden in your friendships and will be available to you day and night.  Much like you were never able to see your stuffties come alive, you won’t necessarily be able to see this friend in the physical sense.  But, if you believe in Him, He will be visible in all areas of your life.

You can talk to this friend just like you always did with your stuffties.  And if you need to tell Him something you’d rather not share with me or Dad, He’ll listen, He’ll answer and He will keep it all between you and Him. He’s trustworthy, dependable and selfless in His love.  There will be times in your life that you might try to be confident and secure in your own right and try to politely store this friend away.  The great thing is however, no matter how many times you sit Him on the shelf and close the closet door, He will always be waiting for you with open arms when you are ready to take Him down again. And perhaps the best part?  You won’t have to throw any coins to wish Him into being and, with this friendship, we assure you, there are no strings attached.

Love, Mom