I was working with wet cement again today. Yep.
And it's not the first time I have worked with this material. I've been in the
for 32 years, to be exact.
The trouble I find working with cement is the potential for it to harden into something I never intended it to become. Sure, I have the mold in mind, but sometimes I just get caught up in accomplishing the job that I forget about what I hoped I would create. Try as I will to control all the elements, I usually find myself trying to smooth out the deep impressions I hope do not leave a permanent mark. But I have learned that most of my mistakes are ~ as they say ~
set in concrete
Now, before you decide that you would never,
allow me to lay concrete for your patio, let me explain.
Today I hired my three grandchildren to help me stuff, stamp and address my Christmas cards. We send out almost 200 cards each year and many hands make the work light!
Kaitlyn has assisted me with this project for the past few years. At 9 ½ years old, she can
do it all! Kyle is almost 8 years old. He is eager to help but needs a predictable task to keep up his confidence. And then there is Jack! He is 5 ½ years old and full of energy. He
he can do it all, but in reality, he requires something that cannot be ruined by bouts of impulsivity.
(I think I said that diplomatically, don’t you?)
We really had fun working together. I shared with them about some of the people the cards were addressed to: lifelong friends from elementary, junior high and high school; first, second and third cousins; co-workers; and people with whom we just like to stay in touch.
But I must admit, there were times I really could have lost it this afternoon! I mean
~ many of our friends will receive our Christmas picture with
all over it as the photos just did not seem to slide in the envelopes very easily for the boys. A few of the envelopes are badly wrinkled. Some people will receive cards with our return address
. And . . . let’s just say that Jack
that the United States Post Office requires
postage to be in the top right hand corner – and
NO WHERE ELSE
on the envelope!
Yes, there were many times I really wanted to take over the tasks I had delegated to them. I could have made the Christmas cards more important than their feelings or self-esteem. I could have taken the joy right out of working together by needing everything to be
But tucked away in my mind is the message found in a wonderful book by Anne Ortlund. Back in 1977 as I awaited the birth of our first child
~ Kaitlyn, Kyle and Jack's mom, Amy ~
I read Anne's book,
. Anne talks about how children are so impressionable ~ like wet cement. As parents ~ and grandparents ~ there is little doubt that we love and value each child. We visualize what we hope each one to become. Yet in the stress of the day, in our rush to accomplish all we think we must get done, in our desire to have everything turn out right, or with our pride on the line, we forget how moldable and vulnerable each child is. The words we use, the tones we add, those sighs we are so quick to express ~ all have the potential of leaving lasting impressions.
Yep ~ I was working with wet cement today.
Eager little hands that wanted to help me stuff, stamp and address my Christmas cards. The potential was there for me to turn the experience into something I never intended it to become. This time, I kept the mold in mind. This time, I did not rush the job. And I am proud to say, the permanent mark left on all of our hearts was love.