He slips his hand in mine as we stroll down the familiar path on a sunny afternoon. I smile down at him and we chat about the corn fields and how the stalks are towering now in mid-July. So calm, so easy is our friendship. It wasn't always so. Not by a long shot.
Oh, how far the Lord has brought Mama and son. He's 10 years old this summer. And I'm still dumbfounded as to where on earth the last decade went. So much has happened since this surprise first-born came into my life.
As I reflect on the time since I became a Mama, I know it full well:
Every bit of joy, strength, transformation, and triumph belongs not to me but to my Heavenly Father. The bond you see between Mama and son today - it's only because of God's glory and grace.
You see, these past 10 years have been hard at times. Especially between my spirited first-born son and his just-as-spirited-first-born Mom. And there are far too many days I long to erase - to do over, to burn from both our memories. Far too many.
But, I've learned it is only Christ Jesus who can take the ashes and turn them into something breath-taking, something beautiful. Something totally beyond ourselves.
Only His Spirit can take the arguing and turn it into laughter.
Only His Spirit can take misunderstanding and turn into solid common ground.
Oh, how I've desired, so deeply desired, to turn time back. To know what I know now and start again. A complete do-over of the first 6 years of parenting? Yes, please.
But then I hear the sweet, soft, overwhelming voice of the One I love. My Jesus - whispering His song of grace over my sagging shoulders... grace for the first-born son and even grace for his stubborn, first-born Mama.
TEN years it took (and still, I'm slow...) to see how wonderful the fullness of grace and biblical love poured out undeservingly feels. TEN stubborn years to learn that love is a verb and Christ is the One who allows love to fill and spill and TEN years to learn deep down - only those gentle answers will turn away wrath.
TEN years to see clearly that my only chance at success at this thing called Motherhood is Christ in me and His love through me and my hands surrendered to His Spirit and guiding hand. Humbled, broken, relying on Him to show me - well, everything. And in that surrender, He is faithful, and there have been miracles.
I see clearly now how truly, deeply blessed I am to have my sweet, spirited TEN-year-old.
I see clearly now how, Mama and son, we are far more alike than anything else.
I see clearly now how what looks like a challenging child is really a child in need of deeper, stronger, more passionate love and heaps of grace.
I see clearly now how we are both learning, first-born Mama and first-born boy - how life is a forever journey of twisting paths and we're all in this together. He needs me and, well, I need him. Because that's the way God planned it. All along. Nothing surprises the God of the universe. He knew I needed this boy.
As I scribble these words in my journal, my sleepy TEN-year-old crawls next to me and rests his head on my tummy, hugs me tight, and asks me to scratch his back. I smile and think to myself: