Happy 12th Birthday Caleb


It’s early here.

The house is quiet, and I am the first one awake.

This is nothing new.

But this morning I woke up with fresh words in my mind.

Words to share with you.

So I brew a cup of ginger-peach tea, hope it will settle my anxious heart, hope there is peace waiting in the words I will type, and hope this day turns out to be OK somehow.

There have been no words this week. Actually, there hasn’t been much of anything in me this week.

The last couple of weeks have been about many things all at once – a weekend-long reunion visit from our first church-planting interns (they are doing so well, growing into amazing young men of God, it is so encouraging to see), throwing a 10th birthday party for Elijah (8 friends showed up for indoor fun because of the rain – we still managed to spill the candy from the piniata!), hosting a few wonderful ladies for a potluck lunch, letting go of my firstborn so much more as he ventured out with his youth group on his first weekend retreat, driving a few hours to see family for the long weekend, taking Elijah to Hockey Hall of Fame as a 10th birthday big treat (we do something extra-special when they gain that extra digit – it’s probably the only time in our lives that will happen!), and now we are back home and getting ready for this year’s round of summer interns (it will be the most we’ve ever had!) and the church planting conference we are hosting next weekend.

Yes, it’s alot. But it’s always alot.

I can look at all there is to do every day, or I can just get to doing it.

Because there are busy seasons and there are quiet seasons.

We have been in a busy season for a very long time, and it is not over yet.

Not by a long shot.

But there is rest in the busyness, there is balance in the season, and there is great blessing in this life.

And THAT has to be the focus.

Two days ago I was mowing the lawn for the first time this year. I’d suspected I should mow for about a week now. I could see the green getting more vibrant, I knew there had been alot of rain to speed up the growing pace, and I wondered if our weekend away would make the first mow that much more difficult when I got out the old mower and started it up.

I was right.

I’ve never mowed such long grass on our front yard.


An old photo of our double lot looking all spiffy

After many attempts to revive the mower after its winter hibernation, the engine roared to life.

I started out well, skirting around the edges of the lawn, cleaning up the landscaping spots, knowing that thick middle patch of green was waiting for me.

Like it is in life, it is easy to start a project, easy to “pretty it up” and linger around the edges of it. It’s a totally different scene in the thick of it, though.

That’s where endurance is tested, patience is developed, character is built, and hope is either found or lost.

I thought of my Caleb as I mowed the lawn. I thought of the title I gave to his book – Discovering Hope

I choose hope. I always have to choose hope. Or I will get lost in the thick of the grief that still comes, the emptiness that still remains, and the confusion that still grabs at me.

I talked about him with my family on the weekend. I talked about how I have to keep seeing the life Caleb brings to this world.

His life.

Just over a week ago, I was at church on a Sunday morning, and I saw Caleb just as clear as day.

He would be 12 this year, and what I saw looked nothing like a 12-year-old boy. When Josiah was 12 he caught up to me in height, I could look him in the eye, and when he hugged me he wrapped me up completely in his young arms.

Caleb is growing too, in the hope he brings to the lives of others. I have done what I can as his mother – to make sure he is given room to grow to where he will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with me, look deep into my eyes, and hold me in his love.

For 10 years after his birth I worked at growing him – with every word I wrote about him, every hurting heart I shared him with, every dream I let go of so I could grab hold of new dreams for him.

Now here he is – my boy.

It’s been 12 years.

And I am exhausted. No words left.

It’s time for him to outgrow me, to move beyond my limited and biased view of what he should be, and grow into something I most likely can’t see just yet.

I caught a glimpse on that Sunday morning. I had nothing left after a weekend of much socializing (I’m an introvert who loves people, but also empties out quickly when there’s no alone time for me).

I was sitting on the bench away from the crowd, preparing my heart for the morning church service, when Josh brings a lady over to me who is holding my book. She’s got tears in her eyes, and I know I don’t have what she needs right now.

So I pray, and I ask God to step in, to help me be a mother to Caleb and let him shine where it’s needed.

Instead of giving, I found myself receiving. So… much… encouragement.

I don’t think I spoke more than a few words to the woman that morning. She spoke so many words to me. I just listened, and filled up, and thanked her for the gift she gave to me. A gift from my boy.

You see, it was Mother’s Day. And that wasn’t Caleb’s only gift to me that day.

After church another woman came up to me – someone I know very well, someone I’ve been to Dominican with, someone I’ve done life with.

She was asking on behalf of a friend that wanted to reach out to a hurting heart. What was the best way? Did I have any advice? Yes, I certainly did. I spoke lots of words to her, words about the best ways to reach out to hurting hearts that have lost little ones, about what might be expected with grief, about how no two journeys are the same.

And Caleb gives me another gift – a chance to help a mother discover some hope on Mother’s Day.

I realize that as long as I am willing to keep going, to keep discovering the hope, I can help Caleb reach his potential. I can help him grow up into all God intended him to be.

Isn’t that what I pray for all my sons?

So when I was mowing that thickest of lawns two days ago, and I had to tilt the mower up a little so it wouldn’t stop on me AGAIN, and I had to drag it over to the driveway for about the 20th time (no joke people!) so I could restart it, and I had to mow the whole thing twice because the first time just wasn’t cutting it (literally), and my arms ached and my body screamed at me to stop and I just wanted to fall down in what was our dandelion meadow more than it was a front lawn – something inside me said Just… keep…. going.

There was no one else to cut the grass – Josh’s allergies would have made this a most miserable task for him, the boys were in school, and the day was turning miserable. The job simply had to get done.

This job was MINE. It had been given to me. And just because it was really hard to see it through didn’t mean I could stop. There was no option for leaving it undone, or leaving it for someone else to do.

Like mothering Caleb, like helping him grow into all God made him to be – like mothering my other two wonderful young men, like church planting in Northern Ontario, like writing the books I hope to write this year, like running my household in a way that blesses my family – these are MY jobs. And I have to find a way to get them done.

I was reminded of the word on my rock from the IF conference at my friend’s house – GO.

I was reminded of the three simple words that ring in my heart often – Just. Keep. Going.

I was reminded of our church’s vision statement – Know. Grow. Go.

And I know I just have to keep moving. Go is definitely an action word. Whether it’s physically like cutting a lawn of thickest grass (and dandelions), or emotionally like typing out this post to share with you, or spiritually like praying through the hard stuff and asking God to open doors in His time – it’s time to Go.

Dearest Caleb Joshua Freedom Sklar,

Today, as I celebrate 12 years of all that you are, as I sing Happy Birthday and launch balloons into the heavens, as I put one foot in front of the other and Go – know I love you, know I love watching you grow, know I will keep doing my best to be the mother you need, and Caleb – know I would trade it all in a second to have you here with me.

This is one thing that will just never change for me.

I love you angel boy,



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