The Professor and His Parents

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An oversized cardigan and a bow tie were his going home clothes. At the age of two days old, he was heading home from the hospital with his exhausted but overjoyed parents. “With that outfit, he looks like a little professor!” exclaimed his father as he tucked him into his car seat.

The nickname seemed to stick and so it came to be that little Titus David Mueller became known as “Professor Titus” or just simply…“The Professor.”

The Professor wasn’t entirely happy about his lot in life outside the womb and wasn’t afraid to let his parents know about it. After a couple of nights of continuous, inconsolable crying and no sleep for anyone, the father reached out to me, The Professor’s grandmother, who was happy to come and spend a few days in the classroom of townhouse #190.

I was nervous. Even though I had experience with newborns, it had been many years since I had helped care for one. Would I remember all the tricks? Would any of them still work? I knew the parents would be in a precarious state, not having slept in days. What would I encounter when I crossed over the threshold of their townhouse? I had packed a suitcase for a few days but had no idea exactly how long I would be staying. To free up Titus’ mother to do nothing but baby care and self care and better sleep for the whole household were my goals. Titus’ father was off work for a few days, but eventually, he was going to have to return to work. Just how long would this take?

As I pulled into their parking lot, I breathed in deeply and slowly exhaled. “You got this,” I murmured under my breath. The Professor’s father actually appeared rather calm, albeit haggard, when he opened the door. I stepped into the darkened room, which would become somewhat of a classroom for the next several days. Soon The Professor’s mother joined us, clutching the object of their love and dreams and angst. Titus David. How could such a tiny person upend their world so quickly and completely?

As I scooped him up, I shooed the parents upstairs with orders to go to bed and sleep. I sunk into a deep chair with the swaddled Professor and didn’t move for two and a half hours. My arm went to sleep as deeply as the child. Studying his face, I marveled at all his features, at times seeing glimpses of his father as the little boy who was once my own and other times seeing his mother’s face. Titus slept soundly as his parents snoozed away upstairs, and I thought maybe, just maybe, I was going to be able to handle this.

When his parents descended the stairs, they couldn’t believe The Professor had slept that long. Handing him over to his mother to be nursed, I headed for the kitchen to see what I could put together for a late supper. Simple and quick seemed to be the order of the day, and I put together some sandwiches, which were hastily devoured by the three of us.

Although the household had come to a screeching halt since the arrival of The Professor, I sensed no chaos. The parents were stumbling through their days and nights as if in a dream, but I could tell they had kept their love on. Together, they would learn the rhythms of life with a newborn, and I was privileged to be called alongside to see the beginnings of this new family unit.

The first lessons taught by The Professor at townhouse #190 were unforgettable. In Fluidity 101, it seemed as though the class was held under water. There was an ease of movement as we “went with the flow.” We didn’t establish any rigid standards of how things were supposed to look with a newborn. We took our cues from Professor Titus, which gave us increased mobility and less strain.

I thought Flexibility 101 was going to be a stretch for me, but I actually found it be a fun class! The three of us, who were taking the class, took turns leading. Sometimes The Professor’s father took over in handling him. Other times it was the mother. And other times it was me. I marveled at the grace the parents exhibited towards one another as one would step up while the other stepped back.  We took turns sleeping so the others could rest. Even I had to have my nap times! Fueled by healthy food, naps, and even some laughs, we powered on. Little by little, we were gaining ground. Laundry was done, groceries purchased, meals prepared, diapers changed, bedding changed, bathrooms cleaned, and floors mopped. The Professor’s mother was slowly but surely recovering from childbirth. Soon it was time for The Professor’s father to return to work, and I knew my time here was coming to an end.

As grateful as I was for passing Fluidity 101 and Flexibility 101, my favorite class of all is still being held, and most likely, I will never graduate from it. Fascination 101. In this class, I study The Professor himself. He is fascinating! Every little furrowed brow, purse of the lips, wisp of hair, brush of eyelash, tiny sigh, and mammoth yawn are studied and memorized. And when I am apart from him, the chords that are struck in the sweet companionship we share, cease not to vibrate. That is the wonder of grandparenting.

I am convinced we are to be living in a state of fascination not only with little humans, but with their Creator as well. It is how He has hardwired us, to be completely fascinated with Him. To be drawn irresistibly by the attention and interest He has in us. We are His creations, and I believe He finds us fascinating as well!

As my visit came to a close with The Professor and his parents, I stood in the doorway of townhouse #190. What a week it had been! I turned to his father and remarked, “The Professor is going to teach you more about life and love than you will ever teach him!” He laughed and nodded in agreement. I looked at The Professor, and a little newborn grin broke out over his face. “Class dismissed!” he seemed to say as I turned to go.

Honor Works

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Honor Works

Are you an influencer? If so, you care passionately about communicating your beliefs, ideas, positions, concerns, and yes, even truths. However, in all our desire to influence, we can push aside the very thing that gives us the power to influence in the beginning. That is the dignity and honor in every human soul.

When we present our ideas, they should come as an invitation to others to think with us, to reason with us, to consider with us. As with any invitation, it automatically includes an R.S.V.P. In other words, the other person(s) can say yes or no or maybe. A true invitation does not include shaming, demeaning, degrading, or humiliating the invitee if they choose not to take you up on your invitation. Anyone should leave an interchange with you with their dignity as a human being intact or even elevated. They should not feel made “less than” you just because they do not see things your way. By leaving the choice with them in a winsome way, you are actually increasing your power to influence. By shoving, pushing, and cramming your opinions and beliefs, you are sadly diminishing the great gift you have as an influencer.

As you are well aware, in our society today there is tremendous pressure to polarize, divide, cast blame, point fingers, and name call, all in an attempt to present truth and win others to our side. It’s not working.

In the great arena of ideas, those that will excel and win are the noble ones, the ones that are grounded in truth. But they don’t stand a chance if they are presented in such a way that dehumanizes and even demonizes those who choose not to share them. This is my invitation for you to take a higher way. The way of honor. It works.

Gratitude and Healing: A Weird Formula

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“There is a weird formula I have observed in three decades of working with the broken: The greater the gratitude, the faster the healing journey! The less gratitude someone has, the more he or she is stuck in revenge, anger, bitterness, a sense of entitlement, and a victim mindset. There seems to be a direct correlation between the speed of the healing journey and one’s ability to forgive and be grateful.” I read these words the other day from Rebecca McDonald, founder of Women at Risk International, and I couldn’t agree more.

In my own journey towards healing, thanksgiving was and still is a powerful tool, a weapon really, in a battle against physical pain. I remember the days when I would literally keep an open journal on my table, and every time I took note of the tiniest thing to be thankful for, I would write it down. Because so much was happening that was negative, inspiring more fear, hopelessness, and loss of confidence, it became absolutely vital I identify every little blessing on a daily basis for which I was grateful. Because of this practice, it became second nature to me, and I no longer have to write it all down. But if I ever catch myself focusing on the negative, I begin this practice of penning all the evidences of God’s grace and favor on my life. And it is warfare! Every word I write is a bullet in the chest of the Liar, who suggests maybe God really isn’t all that good.

Rebecca went on to say this about the correlation between seeking justice for wrongdoing and the healing journey: “I have spent my time, resources, and energy to help our women find justice only to see time and time again that it doesn’t heal their deepest wounds. Justice is right! Don’t get me wrong. But it doesn’t magically make the pain of the scars go away.” Although I have not been the victim of any serious injustices, I found this fascinating because justice seems to be the highest prize we set our hearts upon when we have been a victim of discrimination, betrayal, abuse, or wrongdoing of any kind. However, healing still seems to elude those who obtain the prize of justice! Perhaps gratitude for what is still good is the more powerful healing agent.

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