The Binding of a Boy


And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. Genesis 22:7-9

I’ve had him almost eight years now. And from the moment he first drew breath, I kept him as close to me as I possibly could. But no matter how tightly I clung to him, and no matter how closely I watched him, my fears grew anyway. I used a positioner in his crib to keep him from movement. I allowed no loose blankets because SIDS hung over me. When his Nonnie laid him on his belly to sleep, she jumped up to reassure me that she was right there beside him. As he grew, I gave him teeny, tiny bites of food in order to avoid choking hazards. Even to this day, I cut grapes in half. Well, at least the big fat ones. And you know, even as a little thing, this guy knew. He knew my fear. Perhaps he could smell it. Because when he was only 2 and a 1/2 years old, he delighted in cramming as much food as he could into his mouth, only to look over at me with his lips stretched out as wide as they would go. He wanted me to see inside. It was as if he were saying, “Look, Mama. Look at this choking hazard.” Honestly, I believe my little boy took pleasure in witnessing the panic as it reached my eyes.

With each new year and with each new milestone, a new fear presented. When he could walk, I feared he would be hit by a car. When he could run, I feared he would get too far ahead of me in a store and be kidnapped. When he could jump in a body of water, I feared he would drown. When he became curious, I feared his little prodding fingers would be struck by a copperhead or a black widow. And the list goes on. And on. And on. Fear. And so, I’ve  been working on this. For at least two years now, I’ve been trying to get to the root of my fear. And I’ve made great progress. I know where it stems from, and I know what spurs it on. But no matter how far I’ve come, fear still presents when I least expect it. Like a truly horrendous nightmare a couple of months ago… my son abducted by sex traffickers. Or like last week when I read about dry-drowning on the verge of summer activities. The fact is, despite all I’ve learned about conquering my fear, it still rears its ugly head every now and then. Fear.

Funny thing is, through the story of Abraham and Isaac, I see fear and worship are linked together. When Abraham was called to sacrifice his son on an altar of wood, he called it worship. Imagine the fear in that. And Abraham lay the wood on Isaac’s back while he himself carried the fire and the knife. And when they got to where they were going, Abraham bound his son. He bound him. That means he tied him up before laying him down. Can you imagine? But at the last moment when Abraham reached out for that knife… God intervened. An Angel of the Lord cried out, “Abraham, Abraham!” Oh, the relief Abraham must have felt when he answered, “Here I am.” And there in the thicket was a ram. God provided a substitute sacrifice and Isaac’s life was spared. His son would live. Abraham was told, “Now I know you fear God since you have not withheld your only son from Me.” Yes, Abraham surely feared God. And so did his son. It’s apparent that Isaac followed his father’s footsteps by what I read in Genesis 31:42. “He is the God of Abraham and the God Isaac worshiped.” Or as the HCSB puts it, “The God of my father, the God of Abraham, The Fear of Isaac…” See, fear and worship. They’re interchangeable here.

And then, there’s my son…


This picture is priceless. There’s my little boy on his tractor with his own baby… as close as can be. And can you see how tightly that little bear is bound? When I finally started using a blanket, the one I used was wound just as tight around my own baby. The only difference is my son’s blanket never extended beyond his armpits. No, that blanket had to go under the arms to be tucked in behind his back. No way would I have allowed it to hover around his neck and ears. Way too close to his nose and mouth… too close to danger. And so, this picture evidences that my son is following my footsteps for sure. And in more ways than can be seen. See, when my son began riding that tractor, he stuck to one path only. A small, round one. He’d spend all his time making that circle… around and around and around. Despite having a whole yard to navigate, he stuck to what was comfortable. The circle. And so it appears that my ways have rubbed off on him. And despite his taking glee in my own panic, I find that he avoids his own. For he has become a cautious little guy. He avoids danger as best he can and is incredibly careful. Like me. And today, I wonder if perhaps that’s not always such a good thing. For I fear I’ve wrapped him too tightly with my overbearing nature over the years. And in doing so, I fear I’ve bound him not to the God above, but to the fear below. And my worry? That he will become what I became in life. Too scared to really live.


Here’s my boy today. Literally. I took those shots this afternoon. This was the first time on his very own four-wheeler. And I was scared. Fretful. Him? I’m not a hundred percent sure, but I believe he had just a touch of trepidation. For there was a lot of careful riding. And the path he chose? A small, round one. He went around and around and around. He stuck to what was comfortable. The circle. Like when he was three. Daddy told him he could go off in another direction. But when he tried, he was unsuccessful in managing that small incline. See, he needed more speed and he was reluctant to go faster. So, he went back to his circle. Yes, it’s quite clear I’ve rubbed off on him. But again, is that really such a good thing?

Fear. We all have it. Me? Perhaps more than my fair share. But the fear that lays claim to my heart is not meant to be shared. Least of all with my son. Because fear of the unseen and fear of the world and fear of trying new things is not from God. It’s from below. Oh, there’s nothing wrong with being cautious. But from experience, I know that when I’m overly-careful or fear holds me back, I’m prohibited from living. I’m kept from being fully alive. In fact, before I know it, I’m bound. I find myself tied to an altar I don’t want to be tied to. Because it’s the wrong altar. And before I know it, I find I am bowing down to fear… not to God.

And then, there’s my son. Without meaning to, I find my actions bind not just me, but my little boy. Without meaning to, I’ve bound him to the wrong altar. And so by following my faulty footsteps, my son is led astray. I cause him to bow down in worship not to God above, but to a god below. The god of fear. Because he can worry so. And he can be so utterly careful. Too careful at times. And in the binding of my son, he finds himself tethered to a point on this earth that causes him to go around and around in circles. The careful path. And I don’t want that for him. I want for him what Abraham wanted for his own son. I want my child to be bound to one thing only. And I want for him to fear one person only. God. This is how my son can worship. For fear and worship go hand in hand. They’re interchangeable here.

My prayer is that my son will follow my footsteps. But only those steps that lead him in the right direction… the ones that lead him to the proper altar. God’s altar. And by my leading him, perhaps Levi’s own offspring will follow the same path. And when they speak of God, just maybe they’ll say, “He is the God of Pam and the God Levi worshiped.” Or in other words, “He is The Fear of Levi.” See, fear and worship. They’re linked. Hand in hand. But only one fear is the right fear. That’s the fear of the LORD. That’s worship. And the other… well, that’s just plain fear. That’s the fear that will bind you.

No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their vindication is from Me,” declares the LORD. Isaiah 54:17

Say Something!

Mother and Child

Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction, and don’t reject your mother’s teaching, for they will be a garland of grace on your head and a gold chain around your neck. Proverbs 1:8-9

There are times when I go back to read something I’ve written and feel amazed. And I can’t even believe it was me. Like today. I just read my “About” page and see that I had total focus and clarity. I knew the goal of the blog this past February. Because at that time I felt such a connection to God. I was absolutely sure of His plan for me. For I heard Him through His word, life circumstances, people, nature and song. The God of all creation spoke to me and I found that to be incredible. But as with life, there are ups and downs and highs and lows. And when January rolled around, I found myself low. Again.

I have to say that over the course of the past few years, I’ve had more lows that I care to mention. In fact, there have even been a few times when I just wanted to give up on God. Once or twice, I felt that following God was just too hard, and even muttered aloud, “I quit!” But inevitably, I always found myself pulled back into His embrace. In the end, I always ran back to Him. Because in truth, I can’t imagine Him not being a part of my life. How could I possibly think I could move forward without Him? For He is my heavenly Father and I am His child. I’m His. And what comforts me today is that even during the dark times, when I think I’m leaving Him behind, He never forgets me. Never. For His word reminds me…

“Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!” Isaiah 49:15

And so for today, I stand amazed in His presence once more. For I understand. And with increasing regularity, I find that it’s my own child who leads me into understanding. See, my son and I have gone around and around with one issue. His listening skills. In fact, it was last week that I was so incensed I had to hold back until I could gain control. I called out to him while he wasn’t more than three feet away. But rather than his turning to me with listening ears strapped on, he began singing out, “La, la, la, la,” over and over again. And for some crazy reason, I tried to talk over him rather than grab him by the shoulders and make him turn and listen. Can you imagine? And it’s no surprise that I was LIVID when he didn’t hear what I said. And so, we had a not so fun moment and tears ensued as he tried to explain that he didn’t hear me.

And today, I am quite certain, God feels the same with me. Because ever since the beginning of January, I’ve been crying out to God over and over, “Oh, I need a word. Please speak to me. Show me something new. Talk to me, Lord.” And Psalm 5 and 6 penned by King David seemed to point out the obvious. For David emotionally cried out to God as well. He asked that God hear his groaning, his tears, his weeping, his plea, his prayer, his words, his sighing, his cry and his voice. That’s where I noticed it. Through all my moaning and groaning and pleas and cries, my clanging in God’s ears must sound the same as my son singing out, “La, la, la.” How in the world can I hear him if I never shut up? How can I focus on His words when I’m too intent on my words?

My Son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, listening closely to wisdom and directing your heart to understanding; furthermore, if you call out to insight and lift your voice to understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it like hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and discover the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:1-6

Yesterday, I heard Him. I had been pleading, “Say something!” But God had already said it. Not only that, it was something He’s spoken to me more times than I can count. How weary He must be of repeating Himself. Just as I feel when I have to tell my son four times to put away a pair of shoes. “Please say something, God!” His response, “I’ve told you again and again. Put this away. Until you stop this behavior, we can go no further.” Basically, my heavenly Father is saying, “Enough! Listen to me and do as I say.” Like I say to my own son.

Today, I’m thankful. I’m thankful that God made me a mother. Because I love my child. I love him. There is nothing he can do that will ever change that. And he can pretend he’s upset with me and turn his back on me and tell me he doesn’t want my hugs and kisses. But I know he wants them. Even those times when he says he doesn’t want to make up. Oh, he may try to leave me behind, but in truth, he can’t go on without me. In fact, he can’t imagine a life without me, for I’m his mother. And this right here is how I can understand God’s love for me. It’s through my child that God has taught me so much. He shows me how I need to grow and how I should be disciplined. But more than that, He shows me how He loves me.

…and a little child shall lead them. Isaiah 11:6

Today, I’m so glad that God repeats Himself. Like I do with my own son… over and over and over again. I know that God will never give up on me. He will never stop loving me. And because He’s my heavenly Father, He will never stop instructing me. He will tell me what I need to hear as many times as I need to hear it. Because one day, I’ll stop la-la-la-ing and really listen! I’ll hear Him when He says something. And then, I’ll obey my Father. As every child should.

A Christmas Heart


Is any merry? Let him sing psalms. James 1:13

What puts you in the Christmas mood? What can make a soul merry and a countenance cheerful? For some, seeing the twinkling lights against a dark skyline usher in the beginning of the season. Others may rock around the Christmas tree, hearts glowing brighter with each careful placement of an ornament.

What does it for you? Is it the Christmas baking or a roaring fire (when the weather’s cold enough)? Or is it when Christmas cartoons make the scene? Do the Christmas songs you hear bring a pep to your step? For in stores and in cars and in homes we hear all about the joys of Christmas, but…

Does the joy really penetrate our exteriors?

Tis the season to be jolly and chestnuts roasting on an open fire may be coming out of our mouths, and the halls may be decked out with boughs of holly, and silver bells may be ringing in our ears, but what really lies within our hearts?

That’s the question I ask myself today.

This morning, I can honestly say Christmas has not reached my heart. And in truth, I don’t know that it ever has. See, in yester years, I’ve always felt a bit gloomy by the time Christmas rolls around. Because there is always great build up and excitement of what will come but then, Christmas is over in a flash.

The opening of presents has always been anticlimactic in that they cannot fill the emptiness inside. Gifts, no matter how wonderful, can fill a hollow heart. And so in days of yore, I would inevitably find myself sitting on the floor gazing at a mess. As the tissue paper and boxes and too many gifts piled higher and higher, I would think, “There has to be more to it than this.”

That’s why this year, I really want Christmas to be different. For once in my life, I want for all the clichés I hear to be real. I will not again proclaim, “Jesus is the reason for the season” and “Keep Christ in Christmas” unless I can say it in all sincerity. Because in years past, I haven’t done so.

No, in the hustle and bustle, I’ve always forgotten the real reason. And past behavior proves I did not keep Christ in Christmas.

And so, He becomes my goal this year. Jesus. More than anything, I want to focus on the true reason for the season and put Christ back in. For amidst all the activity, He all to often gets left out.

But this year will be different. For I hope to give my family the best gift I can offer. Yep, this is the year I hope to cultivate a Christmas heart. And my prayer is that my Christmas heart will last beyond the lights and the trimmings and the trappings. For years to come…

Unfortunately, I didn’t get off to a good start. See, Monday evening was not a good night in our household. Coming off the heels of a busy weekend (traveling for Thanksgiving), I thought it would be a good idea to put up a tree and do some decorating after a long day. And so, after leaving a dinner mess upon my kitchen countertop, I made an even bigger mess in my living room. I brought up box after box of ornaments and began my task.

My hopes were high as the right music played in the background. However, as evening turned to darkest of night, I found myself feeling less than joyful. And quite frankly, my patience wore thin.

For there were lights and ornaments and stockings strewn about, and the kitchen was a disaster. It was past my son’s bedtime, but no matter… the Christmas tree had to be completed. Because once I begin something, I have to finish. It’s one of my flaws.

And so, as my son’s interest began to wane and toys became his focus, I snapped at him. “BEDTIME!” I hurried him off to bed and when he asked for a story, I said impatiently, “No, you cannot have a story, it’s past your bedtime! I let you stay up to help with the tree, but you didn’t want to!” My tone oh so ugly. And then with an action that didn’t match my demeanor, I kissed his forehead and scurried off in a flash.

My sighs were heavy as I set out to finish my agenda. And much later, when last ornament was hung and the messes were shoved into corners, I had time to reflect on the evening. That’s when regret came knocking, for I was utterly sorrowful at the way the night turned out. My regret ran much deeper than the Christmas tree…

It was about the way I treated my son and the memories he will carry with him. Would he reminisce fondly about our Christmas times together? I think not.

Instead, my son will remember a mother who was frustrated with tangled lights, who repositioned his ornaments because of spacing issues, and was more concerned about spending time with a dead tree than about spending time with him. He’ll remember a mother who showed more concern over three broken ornaments than she did over his own broken heart.

And so, as I stood there thinking about three broken ornaments, I thought they were fitting. The first was a baby blue bootie, purchased in honor of my son. The second was a cross that broke in two as it hit the floor. And the last was a delicate angel, its wings roughly pulled loose. All broken. Like us. My son and me…


Monday night, three hearts broke alongside three broken ornaments. My son’s as he lay in bed, mine when I had time to think, and God’s. Oh, how His heart must have broken at the sight of a mother much too hurried to care about the weightier issues. Mercy and love. For I had forgotten the entire reason I was decorating that tree.

And as the reality of the evening set in, I found myself as broken as the cross I threw in the trash. And so, I lay down with my son weary with exhaustion. I clung to him, hoping somehow he’d feel my love through his slumber. And as I drifted off to sleep, my heart was as heavy as the boughs laden with ornaments. Monday night, a Christmas heart eluded me.

Yes, it’s true. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas inside my home. There are trees, and lights, and nativity scenes, and a gingerbread house. And my insides have been somewhat better the past two evenings as I’m trying to remember…

…the reason for the season.

See, deep down, I know it’s not about tangled lights and musings on what an awful mother I am compared to the ones I see in picture perfect scenes on Facebook. I know it’s more than losing the internet connection while uploading photos to a website for calendars. It’s deeper than straightening the gifts the kitties have knocked about for the umpteenth time through their playful antics.

It’s more, so much more, than what lie on the surface. And so this year, I pray it will be different. This year, I hope to find what I’ve been looking for. More than anything, I want it all to be real. Every bit of it. I want to say, “Jesus is the reason for the season,” and mean it with my whole heart.

And as for my son, I want to lavish him with love. So that’s where I’ll start, for a Christmas heart begins with love.

You know… up till now I’ve always found Christmas to be a bit of a let down. Oh, you’d see a merry countenance and a song on my lips. But that was all surface. And deep down, I felt hollow. But now I know why

I overlooked God’s gift to me though He’d been offering it all along. So distracted was I, I never saw His gift of love. His reason for the season. But truth is, it’s always been there. His gift was always there for the taking and it always will be.

Christmas and every day.

So in reality, the only gift that matters this season is a Christmas heart. Cultivating one that bursts with love. And that’s His gift to us. A present ready to be opened.

I’m looking for mine now. That Christmas heart…

Have you found yours?

The Persistent Son

You know, I feel that I’ve had the same conversation with my son at least 10 times now. One of those times occurred this morning, and our talk went something like this:

Son: “Can I take my Lego book to school today?”

Me: “No, you can’t! I’ve told you that before.”

Son: “But why?” followed by some sniffing and whining noises and a sad face…

Me: “Because it’s a nice book, you may rip the pages, it’s too big…” Then I remembered that I’m the mom, “Because I said so!”

Son: “Remember, I took that other big book.” more sniffling and whining noises accompanied by the sad face…

Me: “NO! Furthermore, if you ask me about that book one more time, I’m going to spank you!”

This ended the discussion. As my son completely soaked the end of his sleeve during his daily grooming session, I had to help him with changing it. See, all the discussion, whining and sniffling was slowing him down and it was time to go. And of course, my fingernail scratched his elbow. There was no mark by the way, and yet the grazing of my fingernail caused him to tear up. The reason for the tears was his external pain, right, and had absolutely nothing to do with my saying no to the Lego book. Right? Wrong. The tears were because he didn’t get to do something he wanted. And the aloof, cold good-bye I received this morning had everything to do with me not granting his wishes. And you know… this is such a picture of me and God!!

I’ve been going through my old journals, and I am so absorbed with the Summer of 2010. And I see from this time period that I cried out to God daily about me not being in my hometown. I wanted to go home so badly, my request made it into my prayer every day. I wonder what God heard… possibly something like this:

Me: “Can I go home to Virginia to live today?”

God: “No, you can’t… I’ve told you that before.”

Me: “But why?” followed by some sniffing and whining noises and a sad face…

God: “Because Virginia is too big for you right now… You just can’t handle it!”

Me: “Oh, God, please… I’m so sad. PLEEEEAAASSSSEEE can I go back now?” more sniffling and whining noises that soon escalated to wailing and thrashing. And of course, a sad face.

God: “NO! Furthermore, if you ask me about Virginia one more time, I’m going to spank you!”

Hmmm…. I just have to wonder about that. And so, this is what I’ve surmised. God wants me to ask for what I want. Because He is my heavenly Father. And furthermore, I believe with all my heart and soul that He wants me to be persistent with my requests. Because Scripture points to this. It’s in the eleventh chapter of Luke that the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. And that He did as I believe we’re all familiar with the Lord’s prayer. But do you know that immediately following that model prayer, there is a parable about a persistent friend? Luke 11:5-10 says:

And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves;  for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’;  and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs. So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

You know, God wants us to come to Him with our requests. Because He loves us. He wants to give us our heart’s desire. It’s just that sometimes the answer is, “No,” or “Not yet.” Because God can see the big picture and we can’t. Our heavenly Father knows what’s good for us, and what’s harmful. Just like us as parents. I would love to let my son take that book on the bus. But I know it’s very large and he’s very small. I know that the way he would have to hold it and turn the pages would cause damage to the book. And so I say no…. for now.

I’ve tried to explain it to him, but he’s too young to understand. See, he thinks he would be careful. He believes that he’s responsible enough to handle it… but as his mom, I know otherwise. I can see the big picture. However, I now see that what my son is doing is good. It’s biblical. Of course he comes to me full of faith and asks again and again. Because I’m his mother. He asks over and over, “Can I take the book,” because he believes that one day my answer will be different. And you know, I think that’s true. How dare I break his spirit and his faith by threatening a spanking. Because you know, one day he’ll be older. One day he’ll be bigger and more careful and more responsible. One day he’ll be able to handle what he’s asking for. And so, don’t stop, dear son. Ask and it will be given to you… seek and you will find… knock and it will be opened to you…

Be persistent, dear son. I say to you, ask again and again… because perhaps one day my answer will take you by surprise. Perhaps one day, you’ll hear “Yes.” For when you can handle it, why, it will be my pleasure to grant you your heart’s desire.

“If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” Luke 11:11-13