Of all the animals, the boy is the most unmanageable.
WHOO-HOO, guess what I received yesterday??? Yep, my own personal copy of A Heart Revealed!!! Oh my, but it’s beautiful, and WOW, what a feeling when I crack the book open and read the first lines, which I always do!
Keith was in the kitchen with me when I tore in to the UPS package, which could have just as easily been another Revell or Bethany House book. Baker Publishing has this wonderful Perk program where they allow their authors to select some free books, and so I wasn’t really sure if it would be AHR or not. I couldn’t even wait to pull the book out of its package, I just peeked in and saw the green cover with the art deco border and I squealed. I touched it, then Keith touched it and I think I may even have rubbed it against my cheek, you know, like you do with something that’s soft? But I’ve waited a year to hold this baby in my hands, so I give it my all.
“Do you want hear the dedication?” I say to Keith and he nods. “You bet.” So I read it to him, and my heart floods with love while my eyes flood with tears because this book—Sean O’Connor’s story as well as Emma’s—is dedicated to my own son, Matt. Here’s what I wrote:
To my amazing son Matt—
whose uncommon kindness, gentle strength and
love of sports provided the perfect framework for the hero of this book.
May Sean O’Connor touch the hearts and lives
of my readers just a glimmer as deeply and powerfully
as our son has touched ours.
Okay, I’m tearing up again reading those words, because I DO have an amazing son who is tender and loving and kind beyond my wildest dreams. But … I have to be honest … it wasn’t always that way.
You see, when my son was born, I just assumed that we would have this incredible bond that I’ve often heard women talk about with their sons. A deep love and communication that assures a mother that she is the apple of her son’s (or daughter’s) eye—at least until he or she turns thirteen, and then all bets are off! Anyway, having come from a very dysfunctional family where I did not feel loved, naturally I thought that having a child was an automatic source of love. I mean, all children have to love their parents, right? It’s built in to their genes, I thought, and it was a given. What wasn’t a given was how I reacted to my son when he was five years old and not even remotely demonstrative with affection. I would go to hug him, and he’d let me, but NEVER would he return the hug or tell me he loved me.
Now, I gotta tell ya, I was a Christian at the time, and a strong one to boot, but my son’s lack of affection and communication with me about destroyed me. The little girl in me (who was rejected by a mother she naturally assumed would love her) rose up so strong, that it caused major problems not only between my son and me, but between my husband and me as well. I came to a place where I was so desperate that I threw myself at the foot of God’s throne and BEGGED Him to help me be the mother He wanted to be. Begged Him to help me love my son like I needed to do. And begged Him to help my son become the boy and man God wanted him to be.
My answer to my prayers came late one night when I was putting my son to bed like I always did when he was five. I helped him brush his teeth, and then I read him a story, following it up with the same prayer we said every night, and, in fact, the same prayer I Faith O’Connor said to her girls in A Hope Undaunted:
Good night, sweet Jesus, the one I love best.
I have finished my work, and now I must rest.
You have blessed me this day, now bless me this night,
and keep me from danger till morning is light.
And then I would give him a hug, kiss him on the forehead and tell him I loved him. Except this one night as I headed for the door, something made me turn around and go back to Matt’s bed and sit beside him again.
“Matt,” I said, “would you mind if I gave you a Matthew hug?”
He blinked and said, “Sure, Mom, but what’s a Matthew hug?”
“Well, let me just show you,” I said, and then proceeded to bend down close as if I were going to hug him, only I didn’t put my arms around him, I just sort of lay there, hovering over his little chest. His soft, little giggle feathered my cheek and I smiled, pulling back to look into his eyes. “Bud,” I said, using the nickname we always used to show affection, “did you like that hug?” He shook his head and I stroked his cheek. “It doesn’t feel much like a hug, does it? Kinda makes you feel like you’re not as loved as in a real hug, right?” He nodded, his big brown eyes fixed on my face. “Well, you know what, Bud? That’s how I feel when you don’t put your arms around me when I hug you—I feel like you don’t love me as much, and it makes me sad, because moms need love too. So, can we try it again, but this time squeezing real tight?” He nodded and I bent down to hug him tightly, and I gotta tell you that the tear ducts were working overtime when my boy put his little arms around me and squeezed the breath out of me—or certainly the past hurt—just as tightly as he could. “I love you, Bud,” I whispered, and kissed him on the forehead once again. “Good night.” I walked to the door, and I will never forget what happened next.
“Mom?” he called, his little voice frail in the dark.
“Don’t ever give me another Matthew hug again, okay?”
Tears stung my eyes. “Okay, Bud, I won’t.”
That, my friends was not only an answer to a mother’s prayer, but it was a turning point in my son’s life and in my relationship with him. Slowly, from that point on, it seemed he could never tell us enough how much he loved us or give us enough hugs. I have memory files filled to the brim with letters that my son wrote us for no reason at all, sometimes on a daily basis. Incredible letters, telling us we meant the world to him and he would be lost without us and … yes, if you can believe it … what a wonderful mom I was and how much he loved me. This went on well in to his twenties, albeit much less frequently, but I always knew I could count on a 3-Kleenex letter from him on my birthday, Christmas and Mother’s Day.
So this book is special to me, not only because it’s about a woman who wasn’t loved by her parents or her husband, but because it’s about a son who has learned to love and give to his family and then learns how to love them just a little bit more through the amazing power of God. I hope you enjoy it, and may the Matthew hugs in your life be few and far between.
And NOW you know why “hugs” are so important to me. Have a blessed weekend, my friends.
Hugs and more hugs,
P.S. My blog giveaways are greatly reduced this year, so come see me while you can and maybe win a signed book at one of the following blogs this week:
AUGUST 21 to SEPTEMBER 2, 2011
Join me at Nora St. Laurent’s blog, Finding Hope Through Fiction, for a chance to win a signed copy of any of my books including my upcoming release, A Heart Revealed at:
AUGUST 21 to 27, 2011
Join me at Amber Stoke’s blog, Seasons of Humility, for a chance to win a signed copy of my upcoming release, A Heart Revealed at:
AUGUST 25 to SEPTEMBER 10, 2011
Join me at Casey Herringshaw’s blog, Writing for Christ, for a chance to win a signed copy of any of my books including my upcoming release, A Heart Revealed at:
AUGUST 25 to SEPTEMBER 3, 2011
Join me at Lena Nelson Dooley’s blog, A Christian Writer’s World, for a chance to win a signed copy of any of my books including my upcoming release, A Heart Revealed at:
AUGUST 28 to SEPTEMBER 3, 2011
Join me at Pat Iacuzzi’s blog, American Historical Christian Fiction, for a chance to win a signed copy of any of my books including my upcoming release, A Heart Revealed at: