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A Slice Of Life To Go is an online Christian blog written by Todd Thompson. It encourages people to see the beauty in ordinary moments and to know God’s unconditional, unfailing love in everyday life.

Stop, Look, Listen

July 1st, 2002

Stop. Look. Listen.

Sound advice for drivers approaching railroad tracks.

It’s also good advice for parents.

At 11:30 this night I stopped, looked and listened in the doorway of my babies’ nursery. Opening the door slowly, I peeked in. Maybe it was fatigue from a long day at work or maybe it was a reflective moment. But I stopped there, leaning against the door frame, not moving, the handle still in my hand. It’s only been 20 months but I honestly can’t remember how the room looked before it became a nursery. It’s Annie and Emma’s room now.

The room is peacefully serene. A nightlight tosses a soft yellow circle on the wall while a small globe lamp on the wood dresser provides backlight to the Brambly Hedge mural painted there. I’m biased but I think it’s the most beautiful painting any baby room has ever had. Annie and Emma fall asleep each night watching Shell, Pebble, Primrose and Wilfred, the furry field mice characters, happily playing in their own cozy nursery.

A giant size copy of “Guess How Much I Love You?”, a gift from dear friends to mark the day of the twins’ adoption, sits on top the bookshelf. Above it, a sheer canopy drapes from the ceiling, looping over antique porcelain doorknobs and old metal face plates mounted on the wall on either side of the linen curtains. Slivers of moonlight sift through the arch window while the leaves of the honeysuckle shadow dance outside.

Stuffed animals, species wild and domestic, have escaped the toy box. An unlucky brown squirrel who usually inhabits the crib rests this night face down on the floor, evicted by Emma. Books, including some Golden Books from my childhood, are loosely stacked in the corner.

Emma sleeps with her head resting on a blanket, hand crocheted by her Great Grandma Thompson. An embroidered fleece made by her friend Pat is wrapped around her arm. Annie has kicked her blankets aside. She has her fuzzy lamb in a sleeper hold. Laying there, stretched out on her bed, she seems so long. When I stop this night to look, I see baby girls who aren’t babies anymore. The feet of their pajamas that once flopped behind them as they crawled on the floor are now filled out to the toes.

The first time I looked at Annie and Emma, they were in separate incubators in a neo-natal intensive care unit. I’d never seen babies so tiny. Annie’s finger was no wider than my ring. How is it possible that a big guy like me could be wrapped around a little finger so small?

There were sounds that night. Beeps and chirps of heart monitors and oxygen sensors, the clicks of pens as busy nurses noted their vital statistics on charts and clipboards. The hum of fluorescent lights and high-tech equipment. The tiny squeaks of preemies as they were handled and fed.

The sounds were both comforting and unnerving. Beeps and chirps assure you everything is ok. Beeps and chirps would also alert you to a problem. The more time I spent in ICU, the less I noticed the sounds. I remember thinking that could be dangerous. To no longer hear sounds that contain a message.

The sounds I hear now each day are different than the sounds of the NICU. My daughters’ tiny squeaks have developed into shrieks and laughs and loud “Da Da!”s. The sounds contain a message.

Stop. If you don’t, you’ll be blind sided by a fast approaching future.

Look. You need to see what’s coming down the track.

Listen. Because the sounds you hear contain an important message.

The train is moving. It rolls from infant to toddler to child to teenager to adult without a stop.

Stop. Look. Listen.

When the train has passed, you’ll be glad you did.

“Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life.” – Psalm 39:4